Mapping Unemployment: Washington 15th Worst in USA

Wednesday afternoon the front page of the Seattle Times website featured the following story about how Washington State’s unemployment rate compares to other states:

It’s no secret that the economy, in Washington and across the nation, is struggling.

…Are we really doing that much worse than most everybody else?

Pretty much, although some explanation is helpful.

Washington’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in June, according to the bureau. That’s just a hair more than the national rate for that month, 8.2 percent. (The national figure increased to 8.3 percent in July, but the state-by-state July unemployment numbers won’t be available for another couple of weeks).

Despite its closeness to the national number, Washington’s 8.3 percent ranked as the 14th-highest in the country, according to the bureau.

A story like this is practially begging for an interactive map visualization. And now it has one. Note that in my table below Washington is 15th worst because I’m counting the District of Columbia, which resumably the Seattle Times story did not.

I went ahead and loaded up all of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ state unemployment data into this visualization, so you can use the month selector below the map to view any month as far back as January 1976.

Washington State as a whole has been near the top in unemployment for quite some time. Of course, the Seattle area is doing slightly better than the state as a whole, with the latest data from the Washington State Employment Security Department showing King County’s unemployment rate at 7.2%.

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

28 comments:

  1. 1
    steve johnsons says:

    Is there a way to look at just seattle unemployment? since this is seattle bubble and not washington bubble? just curious

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  2. 2
    tomtom says:

    I believe you have blue and red reversed.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  3. 3
    The Tim says:

    RE: tomtom @ 2 – What do you mean? Red in this viz is bad, blue is good.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  4. 4
    David Losh says:

    So Obama kept his promise in 28 States of keeping unemployment below 8%.

    I’m actually pretty impressed by this.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  5. 5
    redmondjp says:

    By tomtom @ 2:

    I believe you have blue and red reversed.

    My exact same thought when I first saw the map! Tim – think red states, blue states, what does that usually mean? Hint: red states are usually in flyover country.

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  6. 6

    By David Losh @ 4:

    So Obama kept his promise in 28 States of keeping unemployment below 8%.

    I’m actually pretty impressed by this.

    First, that wasn’t his promise, nor was it even a promise. What he said was that the stimulus would keep national unemployment below 8%. We didn’t spend all that money to keep unemployment below 8% in North Dakota.

    Second, but for a handful of those states, they really aren’t economic powerhouses. Unemployment is low in many of them because there are few people and people leave, not because there are jobs.

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  7. 7
    Roommate's Renter says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 6:

    Unemployment is low in many of them because there are few people and people leave, not because there are jobs.

    Your statement implies to me that it is factually based, not conjecture. It would be good to show the stats behind it instead of just making the claim.

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  8. 8
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    A couple more years of high unemployment coupled with people who can only afford to rent will contribute to the mass exodus.

    We could easily drop down to 5 million statewide by 2020.

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  9. 9
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 7 – Washington unemployment has been trending down since the first part of 2010.
    http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/washington/

    Nevermind that we had positive net migration during the three years when unemployment was worse than it currently is, you project that we will lose over 1.7MM population due to less than 300,000 jobless? Big families?

    I know it’s the weekend, but t’s not healthy to be tweaking so early in the day.

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  10. 10

    Of the five states with the lowest percentage of unemployment, four of them are likely to vote for Mitt Romney.
    Of the five states with the highest percentage of unemployment, four of them are likely to vote for Barack Obama.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  11. 11
    corndogs says:

    Unemployment is highest in Democratic states. These states have the type of people who abuse the system. Of course Washington is in the top 15. Compare states by percent increase in total employment and you’ll see Washington is a powerhouse…. Don’t judge a state by its burden it has to carry…. Judge it by how well it carries the burden…. Democrats like Losh are the problem…

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  12. 12
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 4 – The people in the heartland take care of themselves. Obama gets no credit for that. Obamas responsible for the high unemployment of his minority constituents on the coasts and the south. The irony is sweet actually. His constituents did better during the Republican contract with America years….. true story…. sorry again Losh. Funny how I pegged you as a Democrat solely on your dis-functioning brain before you ever actually declared it….

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  13. 13

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 10:

    Of the five states with the lowest percentage of unemployment, four of them are likely to vote for Mitt Romney.
    Of the five states with the highest percentage of unemployment, four of them are likely to vote for Barack Obama.

    Yep, ironic isn’t it.

    Unfortunately Californians vote the same way in their local elections, and they’re sending their economy down the toilet. If North Dakota did that it wouldn’t really impact the national economy much, but California is very important to our economy.

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  14. 14
    David Losh says:

    “Obamas responsible for the high unemployment of his minority constituents on the coasts and the south.”

    I love that one, and there’s: “The people in the heartland take care of themselves.”

    Then there is the: “His constituents did better during the Republican contract with America years.”

    The contract with America was a failure even by Newt’s standards, and Bill Clinton was the President in that era.

    The states with the highest unemployment are those states that had the most housing development. Let’s track that. It looks to me like the failed economic policies of the banking sector has caused unemployment, and taken housing in a whole new direction.

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  15. 15

    By David Losh @ 14:

    I love that one, and there’s: “The people in the heartland take care of themselves.”.

    That’s true, but it’s really more urban/rural for the distinction.

    People in cities rely on the government to do a lot of things for them. People in rural areas do things themselves.

    As an example, people in urban areas call 911 when someone is breaking through their front door. People in rural areas shoot the intruder.

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  16. 16

    By David Losh @ 14:

    “Obamas responsible for the high unemployment of his minority constituents on the coasts and the south.”

    That’s also true. I think the impact for President Obama is that he won’t get the same voter turnout in 2012 as he did in 2008.

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  17. 17
    David Losh says:

    Unbelievable.

    Look again at the unemployment chart, and let’s track some construction trends.

    It’s very striking to me that the States with the most construction, mortgage defaults, have the highest unemployment.

    That’s what happens when there is a single driver to the economy, namely banking induced mortgage investment.

    Oh yeah I forgot we also had the wars, and swapping out the M16 for the M4, the military complex is also winding down.

    If you want to blame Clinton for this mortgage crisis go ahead, but making unemployment an Obama issue is ridiculous. Hey, maybe Mitt can get the debt machine up and running again.

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  18. 18

    RE: David Losh @ 17 – Unemployment is an Obama issue because he’s standing in the way of employers adding jobs. Obamacare is the best example of that. Calling for tax increases is the next best example of that. He is not entirely at fault for the weak economy, but he is entirely at fault for the weak recovery.

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  19. 19
    DMac says:

    RE: David Losh @ 17 – Obama said specifically that if the unemployment rate was not under 8% by the time he was up for re – election, then he didn’t deserve another term – period, no other interpretation is possible. Couple that reality with his recent “you didn’t build that” comments and you’ve got the most pronounced anti – capitalistic POTUS in my lifetime, and that’s saying quite a lot since I remember well the Carter era. Most ironically is that the one thing I was hoping this administration would do is actually prosecute some of the higher echelon bankers who had primary responsibility for the financial implosion – to date, no one has been prosecuted, and none ever will. He’s been in the hip pockets of the largest banks since the beginning, making his class warfare act all the more appalling. Or at the bare minimum they could’ve required another version of the Glass – Steagwall act to be enacted once again, in exchange for the banks acceptance of the TARP monies. But Obama and Turbo Tax Timmah would never go for that, of course.

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  20. 20
    apartment boy says:

    The middle part of the country is being helped by the shale and other non-conventional oil/lng discoveries. The Bakken in the Dakota’s, the Utica, the Mississippi Lime, Eagle Ford, and even workovers in the Permian. I have interest in the Utica in eastern Ohio and after decades of degradation of their economy, they are really juiced about the potential of the Utica Shale.

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  21. 21

    RE: DMac @ 19 – IMHO what we need it to break up these bank entities smaller, like what we did with Ma Bell. That way if one gets in way over its head in mortgage lending (e.g. Wells Fargo today), their downfall will mainly affect their shareholders.

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  22. 22
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 17 – “It’s very striking to me that the States with the most construction, mortgage defaults, have the highest unemployment”. No surprise there, the same people who abuse unemployment are the same guys who skip out on a mortgage obligation. Democrats!

    95% of Democrats in the Senate vote to extend unemployment benefits and 95% of Republicans oppose….. why do you think that is brainiac?….. Do you think Democrats have a soft spot in their heart for unemployed Republicans.? Of course not, Democrats cater to the bottom feeders that elect them.

    “The contract with America was a failure even by Newt’s standards, and Bill Clinton was the President in that era.” Typical Democrat mindset, try to condense all of Government into one entity you can understand, the POTUS, the one symbol that represents the big titty on which to suckle….. You might have heard, laws are made in the House and Senate. When the Republicans held both houses things improved for Democrats. Unemployment and poverty diminished.. This latest crisis began when Nancy Pelosi and team took control.. and the stock market began tanking coincidentally following everyday Obamas face was seen on TV in a Presidential debate.

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  23. 23
    David Losh says:

    RE: DMac @ 19

    I agree that Obama failed to meet his mandate, and promises.

    He should have done more to prosecute the ones responsible for the economic melt down. He chickened out, and folded under the pressure of re-election.

    Geitner is a problem, Bernanke is a problem.

    I’ll pay much closer attention to Romney now that he chose Paul Ryan, but Ryan’s speech scares me. It sounded like a departure from my core American values. In my opinion he sounded like he was talking about a separate America, a specific group of Americans who deserved better.

    I know I didn’t build my business. Obama was correct about that. We have the ability here to have, own, and control our businesses by the rights provided for in the Constitution. We have patent laws that allow companies like Microsoft, or any dozen pharmaceutical companies.

    Our government provides the infrastructure that helps us build what we make. I expect each opportunity to have the same chance for the same results, and that is not happening.

    The Ryan speech promised to turn us around. It sounds like a step backwards to how the mess we have was created.

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  24. 24
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 22

    I do appreciate your fascination with me, but you seem bitter.

    There’s nothing in your comment to adress so, you got me once again.

    You should look up the Contract with America though.

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  25. 25
    DMac says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21 – Agreed – they all are now under full awareness that everything they do is basically playing with house money, since the US taxpayer is going to bail them out every time they get into serious trouble, and there will be no ramifications to them and their firms whatsoever.

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  26. 26
    DMac says:

    RE: David Losh @ 23 – Paul Ryan comes from a district that’s voted almost entirely Democratic until he ran and won. There’s a reason for that, and there’s a reason why his constituents keep sending him back to the House. The attacks on him that began almost immediately today demonstrate how freaked out the Dems are about his candidacy, and that’s primarily because they’re afraid of basic math. Watch the C – Span debate between Ryan and Obama a couple years back when he was pushing his healthcare plan, and watch Obama’s face when Ryan keeps bringing up the logic of actual budgetary processes and numbers that are real, and not made – up kabuki. Obama stops answering Ryan’s questions about his budgetary numbers not adding up, because he knew that the gig was up.

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  27. 27
    David Losh says:

    RE: DMac @ 26

    I’m very impressed with Paul Ryan. I think Romney made a slip when he introduced Ryan as the next President of the United States because Ryan is Presidential material.

    His acceptance speech is my only concern.

    I like Paul Ryan’s approach to the math of the budget, but I know that once Paul Ryan is in the role of Vice President he’ll be side lined, so his math isn’t an issue.

    What is an issue is the prosecution of banking, and financial market executives. If a stop isn’t put to the under handed dealings that banks get away with every day, in this country, not to mention globally, we will be a Nation of haves, and have nots.

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  28. 28

    […] request from the comments on Friday’s post, here’s a look at just the Seattle area’s employment […]

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