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September’s jobless rate hits 9.8%. “So what?” says the Biz Intel Guru. Go deep into today’s report with his updated unemployment dashboard

While unemployment rose this month to its highest level since 1983 and 263,000 more Americans are out of work, the Business Intelligence Guru’s dashboard on U.S. Unemployment shows two positive signs.

The signs are located in the industry sector detail of the dashboard, on the bottom right hand side of the page.  This section of the dashboard reports on a seasonally adjusted, month-to-month index measurement of weekly hours of production. One sector seeing more work this month is manufacturing sub sector of beverage and tobacco products. In fact, the beverage and tobacco products sector has seen back to back increases in this index, which stands at its highest level since January 2009. Here’s the 10 year trend for the beverage and tobacco index .

The manufacturing sub sector textile product mills index of weekly hours of production has been declining for the last decade and the pace of the decline moved from steady to freefall starting in March 2007 when the index stood at 73.3. From March 2007 to April 2008 the textile product mills index of weekly hours fell from 73.3 down to 58.4. This month’s index value of 60.2 puts the index at its highest level in 6 months. Here’s the 10 year trend for textile product mills .

Click on the image for a high resolution version.

Unemployment Dashboard Sept 2009

Unemployment Dashboard Sept 2009

The Best Insights into U.S. unemployment, revealed in this Award Winning Dashboard

At precisely 8:30am, on the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report, the most anticipated report for stock, bond, and currency traders in the world. The report is analyzed by a wide variety of sources like CNN, WSJ, Bloomberg, NYTimes, Economy.com, AP, and MSNBC.

The Economic Situation report is critical because it covers the single most important factor in the world’s economy, employment in the U.S. Put simply, if U.S. consumers are losing their jobs, spending will decrease. And since household spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S.’s economy, any change in spending will have an impact on the rest of the world’s economy.

The Economic Situation report is important for another reason. According to Bernard Baumohl, author of the book, The Secrets of Economic Indicators, “Experts have a difficult time trying to predict the unemployment figures because so little other information is out yet for that month.”

With so much riding on this one report, the Business Intelligence Guru thought it the perfect area to apply his information visualization and analytical skills. After all, the data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are pretty lifeless–just a bunch of numbers in twenty different data tables. Trying to identify trends in such raw form data is difficult and time consuming. When high quality info viz is properly applied to such data, however, the fog lifts and insights come shining through.

The BLS tables contain different looks at employment and unemployment like:

  • Employment status by sex and age
  • Employment status by race, sex, and age
  • Employment status by education level
  • Unemployment by reason for unemployment
  • Unemployment by duration of unemployment
  • Average weekly hours of work
  • Average earnings (hourly/weekly) by type of industry
  • Monthly changes in employment

The challenge and opportunity here is to provide a clear, consolidated, and insightful view of related and relevant data from the BLS. The Economic Situation report for July 2009 contains nearly 1,000 words. The data tables in the report add approximately 300 data points to the document. But neither the text nor web version of the report on BLS’ website contain a single graph. It doesn’t take a Business Intelligence Guru to know that this is a ripe opportunity for a well-designed dashboard to shed light on. And so, The Business Intelligence Guru presents you with the “Insights into Unemployment in the United States” dashboard for July 2009.

Clicking the image of the dashboard (below) will get you a high-resolution version of it.

Dashboard of U.S. Unemployment

Dashboard of U.S. Unemployment

Lastly, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my work, so feel free to leave suggestions and criticism.



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