Unemployment in America, Mapped Over Time
We often hear about shifting unemployment rate at the national scale. It went up. It went down. It changes month-to-month. But unemployment is very regional, more common in some areas of the country than others. In many areas, unemployment rates remain relatively high despite the decreases in the national average.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates county-level unemployment on a monthly basis. You can also get annual averages that go back to 1990. In the animated map above, I used the datasets to show the shifts over the past few decades.
Watch out for the big shift between 2008 and 2011 — and then the decrease in unemployment leading up to the present.
Of course, this rise and fall is obvious through the national average, shown in the chart below.
While the line chart is more succinct, the map shows more complexity and feels more real.
- This was largely an excuse to try out the steps that David Sparks outlined to make his election map. BLS provides county estimates, so I interpolate to fill in the gaps and use basic linear transitions between years. As with all smoothing, this method has its advantages and disadvantages.
- I made the bulk of this video in R.
Learn to Visualize Data See All →
How to Make a Customized Excess Mortality Chart in Excel
Show current evolution against expected historical variability and add one or more series that could account for the difference.
Compact Ways to Visualize Distributions in R
For when you want to show or compare several distributions but don’t have a lot of space.
A Quick and Easy Way to Make Spiral Charts in R
Now that we’ve discovered another way to annoy chart snobs, here’s how you can make your own spirals.