Viewing the Economy All at Once

Normally I try to reserve Fridays for the lighter stuff. But yesterday, the New York Times published a really fantastic piece about how the Great Recession changed the American economy through job growth or loss in each sector of the economy. Naturally this sounds very difficult because the American economy is both very large and very diverse.

Job growth in the American economy
Job growth in the American economy

If you check the piece out, however, you will find that you are offered a guided tour with analysis to provide context to an otherwise jumble of coloured lines. As a bonus, highlighted words in the text bring up small charts showing the actual job growth history for the particular sector. The jumble, however, is also organised along the x and y axes by two important metrics: wages and jobs since the Great Recession. This allows you to see whether low wage jobs have performed better than higher paying and whether either has created more jobs than the other. Line colouration denotes whether a particular sector has grown and recovered, recovered, not recovered, or recession accelerated a previous decline.

Then at the very end is another really great part of the piece. This is a collection of all the small charts arranged by areas of the economy.

View sectors individually as small multiples
View sectors individually as small multiples

Lastly, for those of you who have to work on smaller screens, don’t worry, they made it responsive. Overall, a great piece.

Credit for the piece goes to Jeremy Ashkenas and Alicia Parlapiano.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

Leave a Reply