Dramatic video of how unemployment has spread (updated)

I am a sucker for geographically-based displays of just about any data. (And this is not just because the world's leading company for "Geographic Information Systems" software, or GIS, is the ESRI firm of Redlands, California, founded and owned by a home-town family friend, Jack Dangermond. More on that another time.)

The DC-based writer Latoya Egwuekwe has put together a particularly effective short video of how unemployment has spread across the country since early 2007. Like any such display, it's imperfect -- for instance, the employment info appears to be county-by-county, which makes some big, lightly-populated areas look more important than some geographically-small cities. Still, it really gets the idea across. YouTube link is here; embedded video below.



UPDATE: A reader points out that the fine print in the chart above says that the data come from a 12-month moving average of each county's unemployment rate. As she points out, "While that's nice, it will make the start of the recession look less bad and one year later look more bad." That is, the onset of unemployment was more sudden than the graphic indicates -- and improvement, when it happens, will also be faster than the moving average shows.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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