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Watch It Spread
November 25, 2009 2:07 PM   Subscribe

The Decline: The Geography of a Recession Flash animated map showing county unemployment rates from Jan 2007 until Sept 2009
posted by hippybear (48 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's scary as fuck.
posted by Bageena at 2:15 PM on November 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


What Bageena said.
Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?
posted by lekvar at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2009


Interesting, I'd like to see this for Europe.
posted by weinzierl at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?

Agricultural employment?
posted by ecurtz at 2:22 PM on November 25, 2009


That's a pretty dramatic visualization. I go into this Thanksgiving humbled and thankful that I am doing OK and that most of my family is OK, albeit some belt tightening. I'm self employed now but I've been laid off twice before in downturns. If I hadn't made that decision nearly a decade ago, I'd surely be a stat on the map. This is brutal ... we'll be years digging out.

Seeing that map made me think I need to significantly ratchet up what I would normally give to charities over the holidays.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:22 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]



>> Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?

Those areas have been losing jobs and industries for decades.
posted by spudsilo at 2:23 PM on November 25, 2009


Huh, according to the info under the flash presentation, I'm unemployed,* yet here I am in the office the day before Thanksgiving.

*Involuntarily working part-time. Though, to be honest, I've come to enjoy it.
posted by lekvar at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2009


Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?


My uninformed guess would be that these are not heavily industrialized areas, and their relatively low population may be employed by more steady industries.
posted by Think_Long at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2009


I keep seeing the scene from War Games where the computer starts running nuclear war sims over and over and watching the US erase from the map.
posted by yeloson at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


the two questions that come immediately to mind are "what's Mississippi doing wrong?" (see the stark line at the Mississippi-Alabama border in '07; that's got to be a policy difference) and "what's Iowa doing right?" (surrounded on all sides by fields of 10+% at the end of the game).

(The DC metro question answers itself.)
posted by Vetinari at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2009


>> Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?
> Those areas have been losing jobs and industries for decades.

This kind of visualization is also a little misleading. It gives greater visual emphasis to large, rural counties (which the midwest has plenty of). If you look closely you'll note that rural counties in smaller coastal states take a big dip in employment at about the same time as the flyover states.

As with election maps, the divide is more urban/rural than coastal/flyover.
posted by xthlc at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2009


Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?

No boom, no bust. Not much manufacturing nor service nor real estate in those spots, so they don't draw surplus workforces that suddenly get laid off when a recession starts. Nobody moves to Miles City, Montana to start a business and additional business don't move or start up there to cash in on the boom. And those who are unemployed probably aren't going to set out for those places now, since it's not as though there's something they can start doing there. People live or go to those places because there's something specific they do for a living, and if that dried up, there's be little reason to stay.

If you roll this back five years, you'd be saying those flyover states are really losing out on the real estate boom. If you roll it back ten or fifteen years, you'd wonder why they weren't cashing in on the tech boom. They look out of step when in fact they're relatively constant in a lot of ways.
posted by el_lupino at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone care to posit why the fly-over states seem disproportionately unaffected?

Michigan was pretty badly off in the beginning, as was the Cleveland area. AKA places that once ran off of industry, especially car making.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:52 PM on November 25, 2009


We're being eaten by The Nothing!
posted by Jacqueline at 2:54 PM on November 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


I kept waiting for the blackened, sickly counties to start falling off from gangrene.

Harsh.
posted by benzenedream at 2:59 PM on November 25, 2009


The CA Central Valley has been horrible since the beginning and, like the flyover states, it's basically agricultural. So it's can't just be that agricultural areas are unaffected.
posted by GuyZero at 3:02 PM on November 25, 2009


We're being eaten by The Nothing!

If a Human child can give Obama a name then we may yet be saved...
posted by GuyZero at 3:02 PM on November 25, 2009


Last one out, turn off the lights.
posted by Nomiconic at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2009


el_lupino got it right. No boom, no bust.
posted by stbalbach at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2009


I'm sure a interesting information visualization application can be made using this theme, but this is not it. This is a movie.

Plus, why is the range for purple two percentage points where the rest of the intervals are one percentage points. This is misleading.

A good concept, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
posted by demiurge at 3:20 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


demiurge: yes, when x != y, then x is not y.

and I did notice the strange range-jump in the color key.

But it still helps most people who watch it grok the overall situation of what has happened with jobs in this country over the past 2 years.

Perhaps you can code a better example for them? Something interactive, with the kind of demarcation between color ranges you would like to see?
posted by hippybear at 3:40 PM on November 25, 2009


Agricultural employment?

California's central valley gets hammered, though. It actually starts bad and gets worse.

And it's the most populous state, by far. One California equals 72 Wyomings. Some of California's smallest counties have more people than Wyoming.

And yet Wyoming has the same federal legislative representation as California. Hmmm...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on November 25, 2009


And yet Wyoming has the same federal legislative representation as California.

Um... Only in the Senate. In the House, WY = one person, CA =53.
posted by hippybear at 3:51 PM on November 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Interesting, I'd like to see this for Europe.

Not an animation or a map - but The Economist's chart of unemployment rate growth comparing the USA with various European countries: "America may lead the rich world in periods of prosperity, but Europe has shown a greater talent for dealing with recession. Unemployment in the euro area has risen by 30% from its pre-crisis levels. America’s jobless rate has more than doubled."
posted by rongorongo at 4:12 PM on November 25, 2009


I think this visualization from The New York Times is not bad, although putting more years of data in it would have made it more useful.
posted by demiurge at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2009


I find myself wanting to break into a madly hysterical chorus of "ooooo-eeeeee, what up with that, what up with that," which I take as a sane reaction to something so intensely horrifying that it's beyond dealing with. I think I'd be more comfortable if this graphic illustrated the progress of a real-life epidemic of zombieism.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:43 PM on November 25, 2009


Um... Only in the Senate.

True, but don't miss the forest for the trees.

Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer -- both Democrats -- represent 36 million people.

Mike Enzi and John Barrasso -- both Republicans -- represent 500,000 people.

In other words, the people of Fresno, California, have the same Senate representation as all of Wyoming. Everyone else in California gets officially offered to go fuck themselves.

So, how's that Senate healthcare debate going, anyway?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:52 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guess: The "fly-over" states have flatter economic hierarchies, so to speak. Like, in the city there's the guy that makes money and the guy that sells services to him and the guy that sells services to HIM and so forth. When that first guy loses his job, the others go down like dominoes. Whereas in much of the rural areas, more people make money by actually doing things vs selling non-essential services to people who do things.

(I realize that the difference between "actually doing something" vs "selling services" is fuzzy and I'm sure a real economist can both tell you better what I'm talking about and explain why I'm completely wrong.)
posted by DU at 4:59 PM on November 25, 2009


In other words, the people of Fresno, California, have the same Senate representation as all of Wyoming.

Riiiiiight.

You HAVE studied why the US Legislative branch is structured the way it is, correct?

The biggest problem is that the House is locked to 435 members. If they had retained the representative-per-capita ratio which existed when they first established the House, I personally believe we'd have a much more honest form of government.

The Senate was established at 2 per state for a reason, and the House was established as proportionate for a reason. By men far smarter than I am, and who have thought more deeply about non-regal forms of government than I have.

And besides, the people of Fresno don't have the same Senate representation as WY. Because that implies that all of the rest of CA, which is many millions of people, only have a single Senator to split between them. And that's really not how it works; every senator is elected by the entire populace of the state.

What were you saying, again, exactly?
posted by hippybear at 5:02 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Senate was established at 2 per state for a reason

And that reason was to prevent the unwashed masses from being carried away by popular spirit, as the Framers had just seen happen in France. "To restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy." In other words, the Framers wanted a House of Lords with real power to keep the people from going haywire in the House of Commons.

You know. They might want to end slavery and shit. We can't have that.

Moreover, Senators were originally not even voted by popular vote! It wasn't until the 17th Amendment that elections were standardized.

Clearly, you don't know the history of the Senate, and you can't even do math if you think the will of 500,000 people is equal to 36 million.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2009


If it makes you feel any better, people have been arguing about this at least since the Great Compromise.
posted by jewzilla at 5:14 PM on November 25, 2009


Clearly, you don't know the history of the Senate

Actually, I do, but I was trying to avoid being condescending in my statements. A restraint I see you do not adhere to.
posted by hippybear at 5:30 PM on November 25, 2009


Okay, I get it. What hill do I run screaming towards?
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on November 25, 2009


And that reason was to prevent the unwashed masses from being carried away by popular spirit, as the Framers had just seen happen in France.

Well, also because it was necessary to get the smaller states to agree to the whole thing.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:49 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aarrgg! I be bleedin jobs!
posted by America at 6:31 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Charts with inconsistent scales make me sad. Would it have been that hard to make it sequential?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:42 PM on November 25, 2009


CPB, I love ya man, but you're being kind of belligerent about the Senate. The whole point of the Senate, like hippybear said, was to ensure every state got its fair say, what with us being a union of states and all. I know you don't care for the current brand of politics coming out of WY, but that unfortunately does not make them any less of a state then CA is.
posted by cavalier at 7:05 PM on November 25, 2009


The Senate was established at 2 per state for a reason

1. A reason that a lot of people thought sucked, even in 1787.
2. The gap in population between the large and small states in 1787 was nothing like it is today, nor did the procedural filibuster exist in its current form to make things even worse. There is no way that the framers ever anticipated that senators representing 12% of the population would be able to kill any legislation. It's absolutely insane.
posted by enn at 7:56 PM on November 25, 2009


This kind of visualization is also a little misleading. It gives greater visual emphasis to large, rural counties

This is very true, and that's why people like my ex-boss who forward around those maps of "McCain vs Obama vote by county" are so stupid.

LAND AREA DOESN'T VOTE. EAT A DICK, MORON.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


States aren't real. They exist solely because they were made up and we all agree to keep agreeing that they exist. There is nothing sacred about them, and in many cases the lines are drawn in absurd and outright stupid ways- the fact that Gary, Indiana is in a different state from Chicago, Illinois being one of the more outright examples of how fucking dumb it all is.

It is absurd that tiny groups get massively unbalanced representation simply because they happen to be within arbitrary lines drawn for reasons that were relevant in an era when paved roads and instantaneous communication were in many cases a century or more in the future. As long as we're going to be having something like a Senate, having the lines drawn in ways that give Wyoming's half-million the same representation as California's 36- or which group the culturally and economically different northern and southern California regions in the same polity- is ridiculous and will continue to create intolerable conditions and frankly undesirable ends.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:46 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yakima County, WA actually went from +10% to under 9.9%, according to this doover thingy. Very heavy agriculture base, little industry.

As I see it, about normal. A little more or a little less, same thing as usual.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 10:09 PM on November 25, 2009


Wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:13 PM on November 25, 2009


States aren't real. They exist solely because they were made up and we all agree to keep agreeing that they exist.

Those are not the same thing.
posted by atrazine at 4:36 AM on November 26, 2009


Is that Vermont up in New England that has a patch of 4% unemployment? Why would that be? I wish the map had labelled the states/counties with a mouseover for non-Americans.
posted by saucysault at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2009


Is that Vermont up in New England that has a patch of 4% unemployment? Why would that be?

It's New Hampshire. Mnemonic: Vermont is the one shaped like a V.

As to why: Who knows? I'd bet that a lot of the rural areas (like the county highlighted, which seems to be Grafton County) have relatively low unemployment because the employment opportunities there are so limited that many people can't find work there and so move somewhere else, becoming employment/unemployment statistics in some other place.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:21 AM on November 26, 2009


This is how the spread of the zombie epidemic looks.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


new orleans!
posted by eustatic at 1:28 PM on November 26, 2009


This may be a bit off topic but since the history of the Senate has come up, I think that the old way of selecting senators might have been better. It gave state governments some input into national politics.
posted by Tashtego at 9:28 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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