October’s Real Unemployment nears 18%, over 25MM Americans jobless. Oddles more insights in this award-winning Dashboard

My dashboard is updated with October’s unemployment data.

I’ve found some interesting commentary about October’s non-seasonally adjusted numbers in the business section of the NYTimes, by Floyd Norris, here.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Unemployment in the US, Oct 2009

Unemployment in the US, Oct 2009

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9 thoughts on “October’s Real Unemployment nears 18%, over 25MM Americans jobless. Oddles more insights in this award-winning Dashboard

  1. Nice dashboard. I think you used the right amount of color vs. gray scale. Now if only you can bring the numbers down!

    1. Hi Ralph. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the dashboard.

      Regarding my use of color. What I’ve learned from Stephen Few is that color should be used sparingly. Use too much and you can’t draw attention to anything.

      As for bringing the unemployment numbers down, why not? Why not analyze and visualize the data in a way that informs people and policy makers as to what’s going on? Don’t we do this in business all the time? Is it lack of confidence in the economy that’s driving the unemployment figures upward? If yes, are there bits of information in the unemployment numbers that should change our view?

      One statistic that startles me each time I see it is the ridiculous difference that education level seems to play in employment. The unemployment rate difference between college grads and high school drop outs is more than a 3X, 5% for college grads versus 16% for high school drop outs. In addition, the young are really taking a hit in this recession. Take a look at the unemployment rates of 16-19 year olds. It stands at 28%, almost double that of the next highest group, 20-24 year olds. It seems to me like policy makers might want to take a closer look at these two groups.

      Finally, take a look at the weekly hours of production trends on the right-hand side of the dashboard. There are industries in there that are getting back to work, the ones with the blue dots. While there’s not a lot to be happy about in that section, there are some things.

      –John

  2. I really love this dashboard – both content and aesthetically. Really like the integration of sparklines and the plethora of comparisons. One very nit-picky suggestion about your charts:

    You utilize shading in the rows to enable the eye to move through the various rows or columns. You should remove the lines around the entire chart that creates a box. It makes everything look clunky (especially on the right side of the dashboard).

    Thanks for sharing this!

    - Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s obvious to me that you really know your stuff because no one’s picked up on such a minute, but important detail.

      I’ve looked at the dash with and w/o the lightly shaded boxes. I think the lightly shaded boxes on the large graphs on the left, and in the middle of the dash are necessary to mark them them as separate charts. I think your critique is spot on for the entire right hand side of the dashboard. The shading there is way too too heavy. An interesting thing happened on my way to revising the dashboard this month…my Excel 2007 freebie trial expired, so I had to back down to Excel 2003. There were at least 15 things that broke by changing back to Excel 2003, and one that I couldn’t figure out how to fix was how to lighten up the shading on the industry index section and the other snippets above that section. In a rush to get my dashboard out, I had to go with the heavy shading.

      I really appreciate the critique. It’s funny, I knew going in that the shading was too heavy, but after reading your comment, it looks even worse that before. Good pick up!

      For next month’s update I will bring the shading down to a very light grey, barely noticeable.

  3. John -

    Thanks for the explanation. Funny how we are constrained by versions of software! And after looking at the document more, I think you are right about the light shading around various charts – it does create separation without being overbearing.

    I’ve got your site bookmarked and look forward to seeing updates!

    - Chris

  4. Thanks for publishing this!
    I have 3 questions (please email answers, if you do not want to publish them here):
    1. where these data can be downloaded from?
    2. what software you used to produce this nice dashboard?
    3. can this dashboard be accessed online or downloaded instead of just picture of it?

    1. Hi Andy,

      Great questions, no problem answering them here.

      Q1. where these data can be downloaded from?
      A1. I get all of my data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The monthly writeup, posted the first Friday of each month, is here. The historical tables, where I get my data are here. I have Excel running webqueries against the historical tables at around 8:32am on the day that the data are released. After the data are pulled down into my spreadsheets, I run a SAS job to reorganize the data so that it can be graphed. I originally did this in Excel, but ended up using SAS b/c it’s faster and much more reliable.

      Q2. what software you used to produce this nice dashboard?
      A2. This dashboard was done in Excel 2007. In fact, about 50% of it is just Excel (the left side and the middle charts on the top half of the dash). The other 50% was done using microcharts from XLCubed. They make it easy to do great dashboards in Excel. Their charts are minimal and plain, just what good dashboards need to communicate well. No funnel, radar, or 3D charts of any kind! They also have a number of other products that’ll allow you to put out web-enabled dashboards with tie ins to SQL server.

      Q3. can this dashboard be accessed online or downloaded instead of just picture of it?
      A3. I think what you’re getting at here is that you’d like to see a web-enabled version of it. No, I haven’t done that yet and I don’t know if I will. For that I’d need to use extra products from XLCubed, and I’m kind of on a software budget : ) If you’d like the actual excel version emailed to you, to use as some sort of template, let me know and I’ll send it over.

      Thanks for taking the time to write Andy.

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