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I think it would be really interesting to do some data visualizations with the Labor Force Participation Rate.

If you go to this Labor Fource Participation graph and change the range to 1948 to 2018. You will see:

  1. Millions of women joining the labor force starting in the 60s. (source)
  2. Of the 11 recessions that occurred in that time, only 2008 caused such a big downward swing. About 10 million people stopped working since then! Why? Did two-income households become single-income? And wait, isn't the unemployment rate really low right now?
  3. The unemployment rate only counts people who are looking for work (by some definition of looking) and different governments count that different! So what about discouraged workers? And what happens when you combine Labor Force Participation with the unemployment rate from 1948 to 2018?

Point is, it seems like you can start to ask some pretty interesting questions with this number, and I think data visualizations could help tell these stories! I am starting to see libraries like line-charts, but I have not yet seen them put into use for all the interesting data that is out there. So maybe this could be a fun project!


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danabrams commented Aug 10, 2018

Combining LFP with Unemployment is interesting, but it's more nuanced than that. For one thing, there are six separate unemployment rates, mostly measuring different time frames of looking for work. Comparing the velocity of those rates to each other can help you confirm or disprove a thesis about discouraged workers.

I also think that being able to limit the LFP rate by age category in your visualization will be helpful. Some, but not all, of the decline in LFP goes away if you only look at worked 25-55. The obvious hypothesis for decline is higher educational achievement and the aging of the baby boomers, and breaking it out into categories will help with that thesis.

If no one does it first, I will hack on this when I get some time.

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