The Good & the Bad [9/2010]

This is quite an unusual Good & Bad posting, as it does not refer to some extraordinarily bad graph, but just wants to show some additional aspects of a dataset, compared to the original visualization found on Kaiser’s Junk Charts.

The comments on Kaiser’s post mainly picked on the variability of ranks, such that I set off to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to get the (raw, though seasonal adjusted) yearly data. Here is what it looks like for the last 10 years with the US total rate highlighted:

As we can see from Kaiser’s post, the ranks end up to be a big zig-zag so I leave this graph out for a while. To judge the variability and range a bit easier, here is the corresponding plot based on boxplots.

The difference between the medians and the US average is a hint that in years with higher unemployment larger states seem to be hit more severely.

But how does the data look like when we use the US average as the reference? The following figure centers all data around the US average retaining the same scale, but using different shifts:

Now we can see more clearly that there are “winners” and losers within the evolving crisis starting in 2008. I highlighted three states that somewhat stick out of the rest. Alaska seems not to do very well in the first years, but also does not seem to be hit by the crisis very much. Nevada did improve until 2004 to a top 10 state, but fell behind starting in 2005 and was hit by the crisis most severely. Finally Michigan was worsening steadily with the upcoming crisis not really making things even worse:

Being down to only three states of interest, ranks seem to be the ideal view to show the ups and downs of the unemployment rate:

The post is already way too long, so I leave you with the data (incl. map) and the software to play around on your own and find some more interesting facts …

(Note: The data is not identical to the data Kaiser used, so there are smaller differences in the plots. The currently released version of Mondrian does not show the colored lines emphasized so nicely yet … stay tuned)

Leave a Reply