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As the United States economy begins to recover from the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and states begin lifting restrictions on business activity, it is important to understand that each state is experiencing different labor market conditions and that the road to recovery will be more arduous for the regions facing higher rates of unemployment. A specific resource for data on this topic is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes unemployment rates for states on their website regularly. …


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COVID-19 has had an impact on virtually every aspect of society but very few industries have been harder hit than air travel. As nation after nation instituted travel restrictions and skittish travelers began canceling booked flights, airlines had no choice but to ground large numbers of their planes. One method to track passenger volume is the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint travel numbers page on the TSA website. Every day at 9AM, the TSA provides an update with total traveler throughput for the preceding day along with total traveler throughput for that same weekday one year ago. …


The St. Louis Federal Reserve FRED Database of Economic Data

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) is an incredible resource for economic data maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. There are lots of time series categories to choose from like gross domestic product, interest rates, unemployment, and many others. It is easy to navigate and all of the data can be downloaded in several different formats.


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With election season heating up, I recently became interested in historical polling data. The great people over at FiveThirtyEight have compiled polling averages of every presidential election from 1968 to 2016 and made it available for download on their GitHub page.

https://github.com/fivethirtyeight/data/blob/master/polls/pres_pollaverages_1968-2016.csv

A file with that much data is a gargantuan labyrinth of information that isn’t exactly easy to work your way around. Thankfully, using pandas is a great way to quickly and effectively navigate and alter massive amounts of data.

After downloading Python, install Jupyter Notebook and pandas. This is done by running Command Prompt in Windows and typing:


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“A poll is a snapshot in time.” Pollsters have always been cognizant of this mantra and the best ones treat it like gospel. Until the ballots are cast, voter preferences can change based on news coverage, candidate debates, and other events. What better recent example of this lesson than the 2016 presidential election? An election in which, Donald Trump, to the surprise of just about everyone, managed to win against Hillary Clinton despite routinely being behind in the polls. This has led many to prognosticate that a similar result could occur in the 2020 presidential elections. …


Trikosko, M. S., photographer. (1963) Demonstrators marching in the street holding signs during the March on Washington,/ MST. Washington D.C, 1963. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

As protests against police brutality and systemic racism have spread throughout the nation, the inequities present in our economy for Black Americans have become an important and long unaddressed focal point. On virtually every substantial economic statistic, Black Americans are not only worse off than white Americans, but have made little progress in closing the gap over time. Despite passage of civil rights legislation and the repeal of laws which permitted discrimination based on race, the economic challenges facing many Black Americans today are just as daunting as they have ever been. …


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In a consumer driven economy like the one in the United States, the monthly retail sales report released by the U.S. Census Bureau plays an important role in understanding consumer behavior. To no one’s surprise, the COVID-19 shutdowns have had a profoundly negative effect on retail sales data. Monthly retail sales plummeted beginning in March by record amounts as consumers retreated to their homes and stores were forced to close. However, the latest report for May is indicating a strong rebound that has bolstered hopes for a V-shaped recovery driven by consumer spending.

The headline numbers are staggering…


Words Sourced From Eater.com Article: “Is It Safe to Eat at Restaurants Yet?” Cloud Visualization Created in Python.

While many non-essential businesses have begun to open around the country, there have been anecdotal images of crowds huddled together at bars, pools, and casinos in scenes that were considered unthinkable a few weeks ago. To what degree do these images reflect the broader American population and their willingness to engage in pre-COVID activities?


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The National Bureau of Economic Research recently declared that we entered a recession in February 2020 but also cautioned that the unique qualities of this contraction may end up making it a much briefer episode than downturns of the past. Many leading indicators are pointing to a bottoming process in certain parts of the economy as pandemic related restrictions are beginning to be lifted around the country.

Initial Jobless Claims for the week of June 6, 2020 remain stubbornly high at 1.5 million but that is a significant reduction from the recent peak of 6.8 million.

Data Source: U.S. Department…

Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash

The public policy measures enacted in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have created an economic maelstrom that has not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. From a historical perspective, this will undoubtedly go down as one of the most unique social experiments ever conducted by policy makers — A self-engineered sudden stop.

“It is not the speed that kills, it is the sudden stop.”

The greatest measure of the vitality of an economy is the health of the labor market. Stock markets, interest rates, inflation, industrial production, and other indicators are important and interconnected, but…

Steve Younessi

Enthusiast of data, tech, macroeconomics, visualization, and everything in between.

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