Jan. 22, 2014 — When you’ve looked for monthly unemployment data, you have probably noticed that you can pretty readily find those data sliced by race or gender. Sometimes you can find the data arranged by age group or by educational attainment.
Three demographic composites at a time
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But each of those dimensions — race or ethnicity, gender, age, and educational attainment — operates concurrently to create a discrete demographic composite. Each such composite has its own unemployment rate, and the the rates look very different from one another.
In 2012, Remapping Debate created a striking new set of interactive tools to allow you to explore how each of these factors works together, and we now update the data every month. What we do is analyze unemployment data from the Current Population Survey of the Census Bureau (the data that are used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) from 2006 to the present — data for December 2013 are now integrated. In order to account for seasonal variation and to reduce the margin of error, the results reported for each month represent a moving average of that month and the preceding 11 months. Thus, for example, the first month represented in the visualization is Jan. 2007, comprising a moving average of the months from Feb. 2006 through and including Jan. 2007.
There are myriad ways to look at the data. For example, one can limit oneself to those distinct sub-groups of women with at least a high school diploma (that is, sub-groups where one race or ethnicity and one specific age range and one specific level of educational achievement is available at a level of accuracy to meet our standards — see note below).
In the most recent data, the 12-month moving average of the unemployment rate was available for 258 distinct demographic composites. Out of the 20 demographic composites with the highest 12-month moving average of the unemployment rate in December (ranging from 23.48 percent to 51.57 percent), 14 were Black, Non-Hispanic; 14 were between the ages of 16 and 25; and 15 were demographic composites with an educational component of ”less than a high school education.”
On the other side of the spectrum, out of the 20 demographic composites with the lowest 12-month moving average of the unemployment rate (ranging from 3.06 percent to 3.91 percent,) 12 were White, Non-Hispanic; none were between the ages of 16 and 15; and all 20 were demographic composites with an educational component of ”bachelor’s degree or higher.”
four demographic composites at a time
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We have three flavors of the visualization, depending on your screen resolution. The one that appears directly below only requires a resolution of 1,024 x 768. It allows you to select two different demographic composites. If you want to compare and contrast three demographic composites at once, you need a screen resolution of at least 1,280 x 960, and you should click on the pop-up box to the left. If you want to compare and contrast four demographic composites at once, you need a screen resolution of at least 1,600 x 1,200, and you should click on the pop-up box to the right.
Note: We started with 300 demographic composites. When one of them had a standard error equal to 10 percent or more of the unemployment estimate for a 12-month moving average, that 12-month moving average does not appear in the visualization (you will see in a limited number of cases that the line that graphs change in unemployment rate over time is not complete). In those cases in which every month’s moving average was at or above our standard error threshold, you won’t be able to create the particular composite at all.
This month, there were 258 composites available. No 12-month moving average that is reported has a margin of error (+/-) of more than 4.5 percentage points (at a 90 percent confidence level). In most cases, that margin of error (+/-) is substantially less.
Along with the graph that tracks change over time, the visualization reports the overall average of unemployment for the entire period, the highest and lowest 12-month moving unemployment averages for the entire period, and the current 12-month moving average (October 2013 is the most recent reporting date).
Selected a composite, but no display appears? That’s because you’ve come upon a composite with too high a standard error. Select another composite!
On the next page, the data are organized in table form and allow you to sort each of the available demographic composites by average, highest, lowest, and current 12-month moving averages of unemployment.