Sit down when you read this: Economy in red and blues



Last April we posted a link to what News Editor Curt Guyette described as:

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.

So have we made progress since last April? The map has now been updated, and we’re no longer drowning in red — which means that we've added jobs in the last 12 months, not that we've made up all the losses of of the down years. In other words, there’s not  enough blue to float enough of our boats yet either. Of course, to listen to the umbrage heaped on the Obama administration you’d think that either a) things really weren’t so bad two years ago or b) things would have bettered on their own (and perhaps moreso) without such stimulus as was administered.

To revisit our original headline, we’d still recommend sitting down when you watch this. And don’t worry about jumping for joy when it’s over.

And for another look at the state we're in, check MSNBC's Adversity Index, a collaborative project with Moody's Analytics that gathers data on jobs, industrial production, housing starts and home prices for metro areas and the 50 states.

Update: And since originally posting this a couple hours ago, we've had out coattails pulled — by local economist Karl Gregory — to yet another graphic depiction of the situation. This one, displaying the unemployment rate, rather than job gains and losses, is particularly sobering.

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