What You Don’t Know About Unemployment

In: Employment Interactive Source: NYT

11 Jan 2011

We hear the big unemployment number each month (currently 9.4%), and we all know someone who’s been unemployed for a while. But how bad is it really? Let’s say I lost my job tomorrow – how bad is it out there for someone just like me? (note: if you click on the links you can enter your own attributes)

Geography?: Washington DC traditionally has higher unemployment, but it looks like that trend might soon reverse?


Age?: That’s good news. Someone my age has a slight advantage.


Sex?: Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Men have been disproportionately affected by this recession.


If you don’t mind that the data is from 2009, you can select all of the above and also add in education using the NYT visualization below.  So all together, someone like me only faces a 3.9% unemployment rate – versus, say, a 15-24 yr old black male with no college, who faces a 48.5% unemployment rate. image

Another piece of the unemployment picture that doesn’t get much coverage is how different sectors are performing. Let’s take a look at jobs gained and lost since 2000 (note: this is in millions of jobs, not percent)

Manufacturing, construction, and retail have gotten clobbered, while government, health care, and education are about the only professions showing growth.

Well, I hope you found these tools enlightening and helped you understand that the one number they spend so much time talking about in the media doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. If you want to dig further yourself, all of the raw data is available for download from the BLS.

3 Responses to What You Don’t Know About Unemployment



January 11th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

It’s been called the Mancession by economists like Mark Perry, but you won’t hear that reported on your local news.

For the Google graphs, seasonally adjusted data doesn’t seem to be available for most counties or cities, but non-seasonally adjusted data is.



January 11th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

There are jobs out there, but the people that need the jobs either are not educated enough, can’t move away from their homes that are under water, or both. I can understand construction losing jobs, but the manufacturing industry must be a bigger trend as we grow the trade deficit with China and other countries we have trade imbalances with?



January 11th, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Sun: The US trade deficit with China is actually on a decreasing trend, since about 2005. The US manufacturing sector over the last ten years has actually been growing in terms of the value of what we manufacture, and we make more of what the world uses then anybody else. US manufacturing is 19% of the world’s total, while second-place China is about 16% and third-place Japan is about 15%. The reason manufacturing is losing jobs is because we’re becoming so more efficient. We can build more with fewer workers than ever before, so we are.

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