Introducing CareerBuilder’s Zombie Survival Index

October 29, 2015 Matt Tarpey

You know how the story goes – you wake up one morning and the roads are desolate, reanimated corpses shamble around groaning for brains, and you fall in with a ragtag group of survivors, all of whom inexplicably never use the term “zombie.”

But where are those plucky survivors most likely to be located? To find an answer, CareerBuilder created the Zombie Apocalypse Index, an utterly foolproof, totally necessary and 100 percent accurate study of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas best equipped to survive should the dead return to attack the living.

The index ranks the 53 largest* U.S. metropolitan areas in four key categories based on the populations’ occupational skills and prominent industries. These categories include ability to mount a defense against the zombie horde, ability to contain the virus and start rebuilding, ability to find and produce enough food to outlast the epidemic and ability to discover and distribute a cure.

Check out the full map to see how your hometown would stack up.


While STEM-related skills may be the most in-demand right now, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, demand would shift toward more survival-related skills. Cities with a high percentage of their population in military and protective services (e.g. law enforcement, firefighting and security) jobs stand a better chance of holding off the zombie assault.

To account for the availability of firearms, this score also takes the percentage of total exports coming from the metro’s small arms manufacturing industries.

Top Cities

1. Virginia Beach, VA (22.7 points)
2. Atlanta (20.4 points)
3. Baltimore (17.3 points)
4. Washington, D.C. (16.6 points)
5. Kansas City (14.9 points)


Once the undead horde is fought back, the next order of business would be to keep the zombies at bay and begin rebuilding. This score is based on availability of skilled engineers and construction workers. Population weight density was also factored in – if the walls are breached, the infection will spread faster in cities with a high PWD.

Top Cities

1. Denver (22.7 points)
2. Houston (19.2 points)
3. Salt Lake City (18.9 points)
4. Seattle-Tacoma (18.3 points)
5. Detroit (16.2 points)


Guns and walls can help keep the zombies at bay, but the zombies are really just a symptom of the real problem. The best bet for long-term survival is learning what is causing the zombie outbreak and developing a cure or inoculation. For that, metros would turn to the biomedical research and development industries.

Top Cities

1. Boston (20 points)
2. San Francisco (12.5 points)
3. San Diego (12.2 points)
4. Indianapolis (11.6 points)
5. Baltimore (11.4 points)


In a full-blown zombie crisis, you can’t rely on imported food to survive. That’s why the local food industry in each city is another major factor in odds of survival. To determine each city’s ability to feed it’s population, CareerBuilder looked at exports of non-perishable food manufacturing or wholesale goods industries. These include rice milling, breakfast cereal manufacturing, fruit and vegetable canning, roasted nuts and peanut butter manufacturing.

Availability of clean/fresh water, however, presented numerous additional variables, and therefore was held constant across all cities.

Top Cities

1. Grand Rapids, MI (20 points)
2. Columbus, OH (19.2 points)
3. Rochester, NY (9.5 points)
4. Memphis, TN (8.7 points)
5. Buffalo, NY (7.8 points)


Representing America’s best hope for finding a zombie cure, and boasting considerable scores in both Defense and Containment, Boston tops the list of the cities most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse, with a total score of 43.99 out of 100 possible points.

1. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH (43.99 points)
2. Salt Lake City, UT (39.49 points)
3. Columbus, OH (39.31 points)
4. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD (39.29 points)
5. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport New, VA-NC (38.55 points)
6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA (37.49 points)
7. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA (36.96 points)
8. Kansas City, MO-KS (35.03 points)
9. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (34.66 points)
10. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN (33.91 points)


Where some see a problem, others see opportunity. And while these cities currently stand the worst chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse, a boost in certain industries could go a long way toward evening those odds.

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (5.64 points)
  2. Tampa-St. Petersberg-Clearwater, FL (11.03 points)
  3. Los Angeles-LongBeach-Anaheim, CA (12.98 points)
  4. Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, CA (13.34 points)
  5. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (16.38 points)
  6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (16.78 points)
  7. Jacksonville, FL (17.21 points)
  8. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI (18.31 points)
  9. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA (19.24 points)
  10. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (19.41 points)


By kick-starting food production or engineering industries in any of these metros, you could save a lot of lives and make a killing at the same time. That is, assuming the entire population hasn’t been turned into zombies before you get there.

*More than 1 million residents

Would your area survive a zombie apocalypse? Check out the full interactive map here.

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