Mapping Job Loss Live! In Gloomy Color!

job loss

You might remember this graphic depicting the spread of economic stress in the U.S. when the AP did it a month ago. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have done snapshot versions, too. But now it’s caught on with the kids. (Can it be long before Kanye features his own map in a video?)

While this latest graphic’s predecessors were much more elegant, didn’t resemble a pack of Fruit Stripe gum, and knew better than to use radical color shifts to represent tiny changes in stats, the AP, the Times, and WSJ employ armies of designers. This one appears to have been done by a grad student at American University. And rough as it might be, it’s kind of neat to hit the play button (on the AP’s interactive, you have to move the slider yourself) and watch the ripple affect of what happens when the guy in the cubicle or on the assembly line next to you disappears.

Another minor difference: the AP graphic uses stats from October 2007 on. This one uses U.S. Bureau of Labor unemployment statistics from January 2007 (just before the collapse) to September 2009 (when there seemed no end in sight). It shows how job loss rolled inland from the coasts.

It’s the passive way to rediscover how those least able to stop the fallout were in places with undifferentiated job choices such as Detroit and the rural south. Those the most immune, though, seem to be in places that had dwindling populations and career choices to begin with–Western Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Folks there might ride tractors, but it’s unlikely there are many quants relocating to compete with them.