The Great Recession wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing to close to 10% by October of 2009.
But the economy has made something of a comeback. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced that the U.S. unemployment rate has declined to 6.1 percent in August 2014.
How did this recovery play out across America? Brilliant redditor @MetricMaps, who frequently remixes government data into digestible maps, whipped up this hypnotic GIF visualizing the decline of the U.S. unemployment rate since President Obama took office in 2009. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, @MetricMaps tracked the U.S. monthly unemployment rate on a state-by-state basis from January 2009 to July 2014:
If you want to get even more granular, MetricMaps recently used county-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to visualize the annual unemployment rate for every county in the U.S. from 1990 to 2013. It is, as the Huffington Post put it, 24 years of America's unemployment rate in just 10 seconds:
Of course, the declining unemployment rate isn't entirely good news: A report from the conservative Heritage Foundation rightfully notes that 6.9 million fewer Americans are working or searching for work today than at the beginning of the recession. The New York Times' David Leonhardt also notes that, according to a new academic paper out of Princeton University, the unemployment rate "appears to have become less accurate over the last two decades, in part because of this rise in non-response." These are compelling problems with economic data, ones that economists and analysts alike should take seriously.
Still, despite salient critiques of economic data, the old conspiracy theories remain. Politico reports that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal thinks "something fishy is going on with his state’s unemployment numbers":
“It’s ironic that in a year in which Republican governors are leading some of the states that are making the most progress, that they almost, without exception, are classified as having a bump in their unemployment rates,” he said in a clip circulated by the Democratic Governors Association. “Whereas states that are under Democrat governors’ control, they are all showing that their unemployment rate has dropped. And I don’t know how you account for that. Maybe there is some influence here that we don’t know about.”
Next time you hear a ridiculous theory like this from one of your friends, just show them these GIFs.