Local unemployment data

August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

unemploy

I’ve read dozens of news stories in the past few months that compared the recession’s effect on one area to its effect on the nation as a whole. These stories benefit from charts that convey the hard numbers behind the story.

Above is an example of how you might compare the unemployment rate in Columbia, Mo., to the rate in the United States. The city seems to be doing okay, relatively speaking.

bls1

The numbers to build this chart come from www.bls.gov/data/. From that page, scroll down to the unemployment section, and select the one-screen data search for “local area unemployment statistics.”

The search page will look something like this:

bls2

For the national figures use the one-screen search for “labor force statistics including the national unemployment rate.”

bls3

It has more options than the local-area statistics page. On option 7, choose unemployment rate. On option 8, choose not seasonally adjusted. On option 9, chose monthly.

In general you want to use seasonally adjusted rates when they’re available. Unfortunately, this database does not provide the adjusted rates for local areas. You have to use unadjusted rates for the national statistics as well to make an accurate comparison.

A novel way to plot unemployment

July 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

wsjunemploy

By using a sort of “heat map” to plot unemployment over time, this Wall Street Journal graphic lets you take in a huge amount of data at one glance. You can mouse over every month to get the exact data point and toggle on and off a symbol that indicates the month fell within a recession period.

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/JOBSHISTORY09.html

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