About Mapping the Nation

One Million Data Points Tell a Cautionary Tale

Mapping the Nation is a new interactive map that pulls together demographic, economic, and education indicators—nearly one million data points—to show that the United States is a truly global nation. Findings, analyses, and recommendations:


Ninety-five percent of consumers and three-quarters of the world's purchasing power is found outside U.S. borders. And Americans are increasingly taking advantage of those facts. The job growth in international trade exceeds 100% on a 20-year average. One in five American jobs is tied to international trade. Foreign businesses are in our communities, employing four million Americans. The American higher education system attracts more than 800,000 foreign students, the highest in our history, making education a very lucrative global “product” our nation offers.


The United States has 40 million people who are foreign born, more than any other time in our history. There is a correlating increase in languages spoken within our borders, in addition to English. The national security sector have reported in recent testimony before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the intelligence community has been recruiting heritage speakers to work within security, or as language teachers. Language and cultural perspectives are in high demand in business and other sectors, too. The U.S. Census data underscores that the United States is rich in human capital—a strength we should continue to leverage and build upon.


Yet, the data also tells a cautionary tale: whereas nearly every county in the United States has ties to the world outside our borders, schools have not been able to keep pace by providing students with the needed knowledge and skills for success in the interconnected world.

For instance, only one in five states have more than a quarter of their students learning a foreign language, and those students who do, rarely reach proficiency. Of students taking AP exams, not more than 25% of those exams taken in any state are international in nature. And fewer than 1% of American high school students take part in study abroad programs. Simply stated, American students, as a whole, have limited opportunities to prepare for the global innovation age.

Global Meets Local

We think of New York, Los Angeles, and Miami as international cities. What the map reveals is that places like Dakota County, Minnesota commands $40 billion in export trade annually, and that Adams County, Washington has a higher percentage of people speaking a language other than English at home than in Dallas. Another interesting point: Hudson County, New Jersey, has a higher percentage of foreign-born population than Los Angeles.

Examining this map challenges how we think about “global.” How connected is your community with the rest of the world? And what does it tell you about the future?

A Shared Vision

Anecdotally, the business community, national security agencies, and parents have spoken out about the need to develop global competence among the rising generation. The data brings an objective basis for considering the need. Create a shared vision and help the rising generation meet the opportunties of our global future.

Get Involved

To learn more about how to make the case in your community or to get involved.

Global Competence  Toolkit