60 Years of Unemployment

With unemployment approaching the record highs of 1983, many of us are wondering how recent unemployment compares with other decades. We’ve taken the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data and created a visualization that allows a side-by-side comparison of the peaks and troughs in US employment by decade, going as far back as 1948. There are some interesting findings: forsaking the past year and a half, unemployment in the 2000's has been considerably lower than the 1990's. Highlight multiple decades to see how they compare to each other.

As a member of GenY, the recent financial crises has subjected me to a continual repeat of the following sentence: "You didn't live through the '70's... trust me it was way worse." By selecting the 70's and 2000's on the viz, I discovered that in general the 70s had higher unemployment than the current decade. However, the trend of 2008-09 is alarming. Interestingly, monthly changes in employment during the 70s were more often positive – perhaps a reflection of baby boomers entering the workforce. The scatter plot also show how relatively stable unemployment has been throughout the 2000's, although you can see the effects of the recent financial crises in the red outlier dots representing some of the biggest drops in employment in recent history. We sure could use another September 1983 job spike.

Create your own comparisons with this interactive viz.

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