State of the Job Market: A Visualization

A client of mine recently sent along an interesting little link that paints a picture of the job market (and its recent unpleasantness) in a new and different way than I’ve seen before.  If you click here, you’ll see this animated feature, which demonstrates the growth and shrinkage of the available jobs across the country over the past few years.  If you watch carefully, in fact, you’ll see the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the emergence of the auto industry crisis, the turmoil on Wall Street, and many other current events reflected.

(Spoiler alert: if you’re actively trying to avoid any negative news about the economy, this site is probably worth skipping!)

So why did I decide to post this link, knowing it could potentially bum some people out?  For starters, it was because the client who sent it to me encouraged me to do so, after I asked her opinion on the matter, and I thought she had a great point to offer: “Although initially I felt like throwing up my hands in surrender, after I looked at it (the animated diagram) a bit I felt better.  The reason is that over the last couple of months, I started thinking about looking at other cities in the country.  On looking at the map, Seattle doesn’t look so bad compared to other areas I would consider, (in fact, looks more favorable) so that told me to take a breath and just stay put (which I want to do).”

Additionally, I think it’s a great case study in critical thinking and in pondering this kind of data carefully instead of allowing yourself to have an indulgent, kneejerk reaction to it.  If you take the time to read the string of comments posted under the animated feature, in fact, you’ll note that a number of people have called the authors of this presentation on the carpet for not being totally accurate in their portrayal of the data in question.  And while I’m not enough of a statistician to debate the merits of the arguments presented, it’s clear that one can’t (or at least shouldn’t) simply take the information in this graph at face value, saying “Look, here’s indisputable proof that the economic apocalypse is nigh!”

Just thought I’d throw it out there for discussion…

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One Response to “State of the Job Market: A Visualization”

  1. If you look at Houston Jan 2009 you will see an increase in jobs. I just had a friend come back from Houston and he said it’s crazy how busy things are there.
    However, end of 1st qtr shows a job loss.
    Is this an anomoly or what?

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