Reporting and technical writing. Wednesday - Sep 20, 2017

Exploring Google’s Public Data


Google’s Public Data tool is pretty good if you want to present very basic info, and it lets you go much deeper if you make use of your own data.

Using what they make available I looked at U.S. unemployment totals (below). Although they let you mix and match region, age and sex, I was surprised to see that they omitted other demographic staples such as income level and race, not sure why. So in this first example I show figures for various states. Of course all 50 states would totally overwhelm this chart so I’ve focused on ones that illustrate the big picture — that high unemployment peaked around late 2009 to early 2010 in most states and since then people have slowly been getting back to work.

Keep in mind that these are raw head counts, not percentages, so population density is a factor and partially explains why a sparse location like North Dakota has the lowest number of unemployed. Louisiana’s numbers spiked suddenly in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, Texas, New York and Florida have pretty high counts but they aren’t even the very highest. It turns out that California’s unemployment figure is so high that it’s completely off this chart and would completely skew it. We’d have to see where California ranks in terms of unemployment rate before drawing conclusions but you can expand this chart by clicking here to explore this data. Check California’s checkbox and also check your own state to see where it factors in.

Since I live in New York City I played with the Public Data tool to find how to drill down to the unemployment figures for each of New York City’s five boroughs. Each borough is also its own county so my own borough, Brooklyn (Kings County) has the highest unemployment which certainly is connected to the fact that Brooklyn is also the most densely populated section by far. You can also explore this data. To compare other New York State counties.