The geography of unemployment

A sadly psychedelic time-lapse map of North American job loss

The past seven years have been an economic and employment roller coaster, as illustrated in this time-lapse map of job losses and gains in 20 Canadian and 100 American centres. The map—developed by MITACS, a national research network focused on connecting university researchers and private and public partners—is powerful proof that all economics, like all politics, are local. Watch the expanding, contracting and ever-shifting blue dots for employment gains, and red dots for job losses. It begins in August 2001-2002, when the U.S. was in a dot-com bust and a post-9/11 recession and Canada was growing jobs. Enjoy while it lasts the explosion of blue across the continent—the good times that we thought wouldn’t end. Pay attention to the Louisiana of 2005 and the red blot of unemployment that blooms like a mushroom cloud after Hurricane Katrina. In retrospect, it seems a portent of the economic disaster to come. “Between 2007 and 2009, the map turns from blue to red as almost every city was swept up in the great recession,” says Prof. Peter V. Hall, of the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University.


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