How many unemployed where you live?

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How many people living in Denver, like I do, are without a job right now? How does that compare to the U.S. at large? Thanks to a handy new visualization tool that Google announced yesterday, I can find out quickly. It turns out that the unemployment rate is mirroring the national rate right now, but that wasn’t always the case. It was trending higher in the earlier part of the decade, probably because the dot-com bubble burst hit harder here than elsewhere.

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This interactive¬† graph is powered by publicly available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the agency data are not searchable in this sort of easy to use interface. Now it’s as easy to check as the latest weather forecast. What’s intriguing about Google’s announcement, which you can find here, is that the company is not going to stop with unemployment statistics. The plan is to take the wealth of government data available and make it easily accessible. As I’ve been blogging here recently, we are a nation rich in government data, from records of medical clinical trials, to unsafe toys, to salmonella-infected food, to information on toxics in the air.

As blogger Nathan writes over at Flowing Data,

“The most exciting part about this isn’t the graphs or even the new searchability. It’s this growing availability of data. I think most of the data that Google will index is stuff that’s already available. You just have to know where to look. The main point here is that there’s so much data out there on the Web that Google (and Wolfram?) has found that indexing is now worth their while, and with data.gov on the way, we, as data scientists are in for some exciting times.”

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