Make sure you sit down when you watch this

Slate has a devastating interactive map that chronicles the progression of national job losses over the past two years, showing county by county where they have been cut and where they are growing. It is like watching a time-lapse version of an accident in the process of unfolding.

With shades of blue showing areas of growth and red indicating decline, the map is filled with blue. Overall, compared to the same time a year earlier, the country had gained more than 2.6 million jobs. The only significant splotch of red emanates from the lower joint of Michigan’s thumb, with Wayne County losing 6,000 jobs and Oakland more than 4,000.

Click on an arrow and the map begins to morph, almost imperceptibly at first, then picking up speed like a train speeding downhill. The dab of red that is southeast Michigan begins to expand, like blood from a wound seeping into a gauze pad. By July of 2008, losses begin to outstrip gains, and the bleeding starts to accelerate. By February 2009 much of the Midwest is buried in red. So are the East Coast, from North Carolina to New Hampshire, along with Florida and Alabama and Georgia and much of California. Overall, the nation lost more than 4 million jobs during the preceding 12 months. During the same period, Oakland and Wayne Counties together lost more than 100,000 jobs.

Sometimes its good to be on the leading edge. But no one ever wants to be at the forefront of the bleeding edge, which, as this map shows with chilling effect, is exactly where we’ve been.

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