Which decade suffered from the worst unemployment?

on January 7, 2010

This viz looks at the most common unemployment figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but adds visual perspective for comparison. The line graph is useful to compare the severity of a recession (or boom). The scatterplot is useful in gauging how volatile that decade was. Use the highlight function to compare unemployment from decade to decade.

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.


Nice viz! It's an effective tool on informing people about the status of unemployment. The recent report shows that from July to August, the U.S. unemployment pace somehow went from 9.5 percent to 9.6 percent. Additional employees than were expected were hired. I guess employers decided to hire. Many believe the joblessness figures are going up because United States of America Census careers have ended, the federal government has done layoffs and more individuals are looking for careers once again. But private sector hiring increased for the eighth straight month. There was also a change in June and July figures revised by the Labor Department showing less jobs were lost and additional made. The jobs report has enough good things about it this time that a spark of hope was developed for economists to think a double dip recession isn’t in the making any longer.