USA – Unemployment Rate by County – 2000/2019 + Impact of Coronavirus

Insights into economic trends in the United States continue. After having seen a few months ago the map with the variation of the poverty rate in the U.S. and having seen a few days ago the data on homelessness, in this new article we try to make a further analysis. Putting together the data available in different databases I made a map, from 2000 to 2019, with the poverty rates. Unlike the usual maps for states, this one analyzes data from every county in the United States. It took me many hours to make this analysis, so I hope you find the work interesting.

Map – Unemployment Rate by County – 2000/2019

In the map I made you can see the unemployment rate for every single county in the United States. There are approximately 3200 total counties. The unemployment rate data refers to the period from 2000 to 2019.

You can search through the “search” feature for the County of interest. By hovering the mouse over the map you can also see the data. Finally it is possible to move the time (top left).

A first item to note when viewing the map from 2000 to 2019 is how the unemployment rate increased very sharply during the years of the financial crisis. In fact, from 2008-2009 in almost every county in the United States, the unemployment rate increased dramatically. In 2009, for example, Imperial County in California had an unemployment rate of 27.4%. Wilcox County in Alabama had an unemployment rate of 26% and Perry County in Tennessee had an unemployment rate of 23.1%. With the exception of Central America, which seems to have suffered less from the crisis, in 2009 both the East and the West saw a marked increase in unemployment figures.

In 2010 the damage of the financial crisis continued to be felt. More and more areas in the east and west of the United States were colored in dark red. Some counties have reached a peak of almost 29 percentage points of unemployment. If we look at California, for example, almost all the counties have a very high value.

Counties in the United States with the highest unemployment rate – 2000/2019

In addition to the map, I also tried to understand which counties have the highest unemployment rates from 2000 to 2019. In 2000 the top county, which became second in 2019, was Imperial County. In fact, the unemployment rate in 2000 was 17.5%. Also among the top 15 counties with the highest unemployment rate were Starr County and Presidio County, both in Texas with between 16.6% and 16.4%. Overall, it is interesting to note that among the top 15 counties, 2 were from California, 4 were from Texas, and 4 were from California.

In 2009, the data were decidedly different. There were 12 counties that had over 20% unemployment. And those counties were distributed very differently than in 2000. There was no longer a county in Texas, but instead there were counties like Wilcox County in Alabama, Yuma County in Arizona. And then Baraga County in Michigan, Perry County in Tennessee, Dallas County in Alabama. In short, the distribution was definitely more diverse. Among the top 15 positions we also find 3 counties in South Carolina.

In 2019 we are back to having no county with an unemployment rate above 20% due to the economic recovery over time. The counties with the most unemployment include Kusilvak in Alaska followed by Imperial County which was first in 2000. Of the top 15 counties a large portion of these are part of Alaska: as many as 6 out of 15.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Unemployment Rate

We’ve seen how the financial crisis of 2008-2009 had a decidedly negative impact on labor. But what was the impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. economy? How has the unemployment rate changed? From the table below you can see the data for several parameters. The one that is certainly most striking is how in April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the unemployment rate among 16- to 19-year-olds had risen to 32.1%, the highest figure since the financial crisis.

Also on a total level, the April 2020 figures are definitely the highest reached in the last 20 years. But, once the sharp rise ended, the data, month by month, went back down to 6% of the total. The short-term impact of the Coronavirus on the economy has been very strong.

But thanks to some choices and interventions, the situation quickly improved. Although 2020 was a “horrible” year in terms of unemployment data, from late 2020 onwards the data has returned to 2013 levels. Currently, unemployment in the U.S. as of March 2021 is the same as it was in August 2013. The U.S. is still a long way from the February 2020 data, when it was 3.5%. But overall, compared to the previous economic crisis, we are seeing a different trend. This bodes well for the U.S. economy.

Sources and useful data

To create the map and article (6 hours of work), I used various data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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