Data Visualization Critique: Wk11

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/Jobs-Forecast-2011/34083932/1

This is a really fantastic visualization from USA Today.  It’s sophisticated, uncluttered and conveys several stories without overwhelming the viewer.

There isn’t a map key or a set of instructions but you intuitively mouseover the map and click on the state you want.  For e.g. lets say you click on Texas. Not only do I have a graph that shows up on the left telling me what the percentage change in job growth has been for the last couple of years I can also see a trend. The jobs are predicted to rise, but it’ll be slower than predicted. Below I can match up Texas’ performance with the other states.

With the purple bars clearly showing where job growth is negative, it’s very easy to create a narrative in your mind about what happened to Texas when it came to employment. But the best part is yet to come.

On the far left, you can click on different job sectors to see exactly which jobs were the most affected by the recession. The states then reflect the job growth in very clear terms, purple being jobs decreasing, and green to dark green meaning an increase. If you click on “construction” and “government services” you can see the very stark difference as the areas become mostly purple. Conversely, it’s easy to see that jobs increased in the educational and health sectors.

The visualization isn’t overly complicated, I can already imagine how we could create it using the simple for loops and swap map functions we have been working with. This is also data that is readily available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics so compiling it wouldn’t have been hard. They creators were also smart about using percentage change rather than just percentages so that we could have clearer, standardized comparisons.

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One thought on “Data Visualization Critique: Wk11

  1. susanemcg says:

    I agree that this is a nice compilation of information, with good colors and even a little bit of playfulness with the bounce animation when you change a selection. However, I take issue with the job figures bar chart, which doesn’t start at zero (big no-no!) and has a subtly changing scale that makes perceiving relative trends almost impossible (you also can’t mouse over for individual figures).
    However, the categorizations and many of the visual cues are clear and pleasant, and it’s value as a “tool” visualization is clear.

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