The news: If you have two minutes to spare, here's a crash course on almost 40 years' worth of U.S. economic data.
On Wednesday, enterprising Redditor @MetricMaps posted this dazzling GIF compiling state unemployment data from 1976 until now. It's at once a gripping look at national trends — e.g. the Great Recession — and an in-depth analysis of how each region fared at a specific time (click here for a larger version):
There are two notable explosions of red in this GIF: the 1980s recession under President Ronald Reagan and the post-2008 recession under President Obama. In contrast, the Clinton era is blissfully blue, and remains so for much of President George W. Bush's terms.
And if you're looking for a more detailed, region-specific breakdown, here is another GIF from the same Redditor that tracks unemployment on a county level, dating back to 1990 (click here for a larger version):
Though the Great Recession was a rough time for much of the country, the Great Plains fared better than most other regions, while the West Coast, the South, and the Midwest were the hardest hit. As explained by Forbes, a rise in commodity prices, along with the tapping of shale gas and oil reserves, have revitalized these so-called "flyover states" in the middle of the U.S.
But overall, as these GIFs demonstrate, the country seems to be on the road to recovery from widespread unemployment — slowly but surely. The latest job numbers may not look as good as we would like, but it's better than the sea of red we used to face.