Dataviz with Observable/d3.js: US unemployment by race, sex and age in times of Covid-19

I am so pleased I am finally doing something a bit more up to date with these new chart making skills. Though, I must again emphasize that I stopped creating charts from scratch a while ago. Observable allows you to just fork charts, tinker with the code and use your own data. Though you do need to know what you are doing and understand how d3.js works at a basic level. No problem, I can do that and more.

So what do we have in the above chart? Well, I found interesting data about the employment of the US civilian population by race, age and sex. The original data can be found here. I am not going to reproduce the entire table here, but I notice that these US data tables are densely packed with numbers and different variables and it might be better to visualise the more interesting ones with a chart. I did extract the most important bits into my own google sheets spreadsheet:

Even though that helps, a chart is still worth a thousand google sheet spreadsheets, and thus the chart above. If you are on a desktop, you can hover with the mouse on each line of the multi line chart and the current line with its tooltip, including a short description, will be highlighted.

What do I think of it? It makes for very depressing reading, certainly. Three population groups are measured here, Asian, Black/African American and White. For the latter two, the website provides additional data on unemployment in sub-populations: men, women, and young people. I just see a very wealthy country where part of population enjoys certain practical privileges that make life easier and more pleasant to bear, such as getting/having a job. Blacks/African Americans are obviously at a very clear disadvantage in comparison to the rest of the population.

It is actually quite powerful to see the data and be able to visualise it with a chart, even if it is just for myself. I think we are bombarded daily with data nowadays and sometimes less is more. So many visualisations are too complicated and end up just confusing people. In contrast, the chart above is as clear as water. It has a simple message: unemployment went up during the Covid-19 epidemic for all population groups. However, it went up much more steeply for Blacks and Asians than for Whites.

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