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Which states have been hit hardest by unemployment in the last decade?

Posted by on Jan 10, 2010 in Blog, CAR, class, data visualizations | One Comment

For the past week, we’ve been hearing a lot of media coverage focusing on issues both encouraging and discouraging, looking with excitement at the beginning of a new decade. But what captured my attention most recently was the release of unemployment figures from the end of 2009. If you look at the glass as half full, it’s got to go up from here sometime soon, and if you look it as half empty, we’re not starting in a strong economic place. As if we didn’t already know that.

This Chicago Tribune piece emphasized that Illinois ranks in the bottom of states making a recovery. And that made me curious, how far has Illinois come from a decade ago? And how far have the rest of the states come?

I matched up the unemployment rates for each state in November 2009 with the unemployment rates from Nov. 1999, that is, the same measurements from a decade prior. Then, I calculated the absolute change of the unemployment rate, to see which states have been hit the hardest, looking at the quantity of citizens they are able to keep employed. I think it’s very interesting that 0 of the 50 states have seen an improvement since 1999, which demonstrates just how complete the job crunch is. Michigan has felt the most impact by this measurement, seeing a rise of 11 points in its unemployment rate. The state with the second-largest change was Rhode Island, with a difference of 8.6 points. I thought this was interesting, as I could see bigger, or more populous, states having a greater change in their unemployment rate, but Rhode Island fits neither of those categories. And North Dakota has seen the least change in its unemployment rate of all the states, it’s only 1.1 points higher in Nov. 2009 than it was a decade prior.

Below, my first attempt at using Processing (with many thanks to a tutorial from Ben Fry’s Visualizing Data). The bigger the dot within a state is, the greater the number of points its unemployment rate rose between Nov. 1999 and 2009. Roll over each dot for more detail.

Data set here, culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

« « Reflections on Visualization Theory (Data viz readings, week 1)

A list of 40 CAR-friendly news organizations
(my adventures in parsing the IRE directory)
» »