Thursday, May 27, 2010

Here's how unemployment looks, animated

This graphic came to my attention tonight via Twitter, an animated look at the run-up in unemployment, month-by-month and county-by-county, between January 2007 and March this year.

It's striking how strained the labor market grew through 2009.

The animation was done by LaToya Egwuelewe, originally as a graduate school project at American University in Washington, D.C. She got an A on it, she tells CNN in an interview that aired in December. (Note that the animation is an update of the map shown in the video; the video takes about 25 seconds to load.)

The CNN anchor captures the work perfectly: "The illustration is beautiful in a very ugly way for many, many American workers."

Will the metro data, which lags release of the overall U.S. jobless rate, show any improvement in the next report, for April, which is due out June 2? Probably not. You'll remember that while the government reported a net gain in jobs in April, the unemployment rate for the month still ticked up as workers who had left the labor market relaunched their job searches.

The government is due to release the May jobs report next Friday, June 4.

(The Bureau of Labor Statistics lets you take your own look at metro-level unemployment here.)

UPDATE: The BLS reported some improvement in April's numbers. From the release: "Unemployment rates were higher in April than a year earlier in 291 of the 372 metropolitan areas, lower in 73 areas, and unchanged in eight areas." In the March report, unemployment rates were higher than a year earlier in 321 metro areas. While 28 metros recorded jobless rates of at least 15 percent in March, just 14 metros were reporting a rate that high in April.

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