Sunday, August 02, 2009

U.S. Economy Maps

The Perry-Castañeda Library at UT-Austin has one of the world's great map collections, and many of the maps are available online. It is a great site to find reliable maps of any part of the world. The librarians make an ever-changing selection of maps available from the main page, depending upon current events such as hurricanes, wars, or other events that will increase demand for particular kinds of maps. The current featured maps include quite a collection about the U.S. economy, providing insight into the geography of the current crisis.

My favorite of these is the Geography of Jobs from TIP strategies. The animation begins with a 2004 map of job gains and losses by metro area, which shows a clear rustbelt/sunbelt divide:

The map then shows the net gains and losses of jobs over the following five years, as a 12-month rolling average (to smooth out seasonal fluctuations and focus on the spatial variations). The impact of Hurricane Katrina is easy to see, and the subsequent crash of economies coast-to-coast is even more dramatic.
One silver lining is the revelation that Hurricane Katrina occurred during a time of relative propserity in the rest of the country. Had it taken place a couple of years later, the dismal situation would have been made even worse.


  1. James,
    Did you notice that when the animation stops and it appears that all the dots are red there is actually one very tiny green dot in McAllen, Texas?

  2. I had not noticed -- thanks. That is pretty remarkable, as our former home on the border has a rather weak economy.


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