Mapping the Unemployment Tide

Mapping the Unemployment Tide

Assembly line in a California auto-manufacturing plant. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadagood/3057618180/">Gregory Melle (flickr)</a>
Assembly line in a California auto-manufacturing plant. Photo: Gregory Melle (flickr)

Just how deeply is the recession carving its way through the U.S. — and who's getting hit the hardest?

A New York Times interactive map measures December 2008 unemployment rates across the U.S., layering in the impact of the housing boom and the loss of manufacturing jobs. Dark patches of color, indicating higher unemployment rates, are especially noticeable along the West Coast, as well as in Michigan and in parts of the Deep South.

The national unemployment average reached 7.1 percent last December. Current figures put the jobless rate at 8.1 percent — the highest since 1983. Unemployment has crept as high as 22 percent in places like El Centro, California, an area weakened by dried-up crops and withered spending as fewer Mexicans cross the border to shop there.

This recession bears a different face than previous economic lapses, writes The New York Times’ David Leonhardt. He says the current downturn is hurting blue-collar workers more than college graduates, affecting men more than women and stinging homeowners more than renters. He adds that Latinos have become the ethnic group most vulnerable to job losses.

"The main reason that recessions tend to increase inequality is that lower-income workers are concentrated in boom-and-bust industries," Leonhardt writes, citing recent job landslides in the agriculture and construction sectors.

Leonhardt suggests that stocks, government policy and education are the three tools most crucial to lifting the U.S. from the economic depths the country hasn't seen since the Great Depression.

Curated news and insights about innovative, market-driven solutions to poverty explored through news, commentary and discussion.

Learn more »

Global Envision newsletter