Breaking Local Stories with BLS Data by Paul Overberg


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USA Today's Paul Overberg presents "Breaking Local Stories with BLS Data," part of the free business journalism workshop, "Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data," hosted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

This presentation focuses on the D.C. region, however the tools and resources provided can be applied anywhere in the United States.

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit

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Breaking Local Stories with BLS Data by Paul Overberg

  1. 1. Breaking Local Stories Title SlideData with Economic U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. 2. PaulOverbergPaul Overberg, a database editor at USATODAY, finds news in all kinds of data. Hefocuses on who the American people are andhow they live -- their demographics. Thatincludes income in all of its many forms; thelack of income, or poverty; and jobs, theprimary source of income for most people.Through IRE/NICAR, he often helps localreporters learn about this kind of data. He poverberg@usatoday.comalso has worked as a science and health @poverbergeditor and as a local reporter and businesseditor.
  3. 3. What we’ll coverReal news stories using BLS dataon:•  County employment,unemployment•  Metro labor force, unemployment•  Metro employment•  Metro wage rates Photo by Flick user zesser•  State business dynamics•  How to find each type of data•  How to turn data → stories!
  4. 4. County unemployment “Fairfax County’s jobless rate declined slightly from October to November … to 3.6% …” -- Vienna (VA) Sun Gazette, Jan. 17, 2013
  5. 5. County unemployment•  Start•  Click on highlighted link:“LAU tables and maps”•  County
  6. 6. County unemployment•  If you have aspreadsheet, openthe file and filter on“Adams County,CO”
  7. 7. County unemployment•  Ideas: Googleimage search for“countyunemployment map”
  8. 8. Video: Excel as BLS dashboardHow to collect regular BLSdata updates withouthaving to reformat, analyzeand graph it each monthReview the video at:h"p://  
  9. 9. Metro unemployment“The Lubbock-areaunemployment rate fell to 5.8percent in August from 6.4percent in July … because ofnotable losses in both jobs andthe civilian labor force.” --Sept. 21, 2012, Lubbock (Texas)Avalanche-Journalh"p://­‐09-­‐21/local-­‐unemployment-­‐rate-­‐falls-­‐58-­‐percent-­‐sizeable-­‐drop-­‐workforce-­‐jobs#.UUILNFe0J8E  
  10. 10. Metro unemployment•  Start•  Choose first link inhighlighted section:“Unemployment rates formetro areas”
  11. 11. Metro unemployment•  Direct
  12. 12. Metro employment“ … the six-countyChattanooga region added3,900 jobs in the most recent12-month period …” -- DaveFlessner, Jan. 1, 2013,Chattanooga Times Free-Press h"p:// news/2013/jan/01/rebound-­‐ cha"anooga-­‐leads-­‐state-­‐job-­‐ growth/?print  
  13. 13. Metro employmentStart here:• Table 1: Labor force, unemployed• Table 3: Employed
  14. 14. Metro employmentStart• Table 1: Labor force,unemployed• Table 3: Employed
  15. 15. Local wages “… Miami-Dadefinishes in themiddle of thepack. ... averageweekly wage grew to$880 in the thirdquarter of 2011, a 3.3percent gain ... .”-- Douglas Hanks,,May 11, 2012h"p://  
  16. 16. Local wagesStart•  Choose second link offourth section: “For 375metropolitan areas …”•  Choose “D” for “Districtof Columbia,” then“Washington-Arlington-Alexandria,DC-VA-MD-WV”
  17. 17. Local wages Use columnsorting to seetop-payingoccupations.
  18. 18. Video: Location quotientA powerful tool toanalyze your localeconomyReview the video at:h"p://  
  19. 19. Employment dynamics “… Colorado gained 128,595 private-sector jobs in last year’s fourth quarter from the previous quarter and lost 122,675 jobs, for a net gain of 5,920 jobs …” -- Mark Harden, Aug. 2, 2012, Denver Business Journalh"p://­‐gains-­‐business-­‐jobs-­‐a-­‐bit.html  
  20. 20. Employment dynamicsStart•  Click on link for Table 6
  21. 21. Employment dynamics
  22. 22. Employment dynamics To explore much deeper:
  23. 23. Questions? h"p:/       Thanks for coming! for workshop slides, videos, handouts Source:  The  Washington  Post