Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data - BLS by Paul Overberg


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Paul Overberg of USA Today presents "Finding stories in Bureau of Labor Statistics data," part of a free, multi-session workshop sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism in Louisville, Ky.

For more information on free training for journalists, please visit

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Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data - BLS 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 editor @poverbergand as a local reporter and business editor.
  3. 3. What we’ll coverReal news stories using BLS data on:•  County employment, unemployment•  Metro labor force, unemployment•  Metro employment•  Metro wage rates•  State business dynamics Photo by Flick user zesser•  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•  If you have a spreadsheet,open file and filter on“Adams County, CO”
  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 month
  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-Journal
  10. 10. Metro unemployment•  Start•  Choose first link inhighlighted section:“Unemployment rates formetro areas”
  11. 11. Metro unemployment•  Direct links:
  12. 12. Metro employment“ … the six-countyChattanooga region added3,900 jobs in the most recent12-month period …” -- DaveFlessner, Feb. 1, 2013,Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  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, a3.3 percent gain ... .”-- Miami Herald,May 11, 2012
  16. 16. Local wagesStart•  Choose second link offourth section: “For 375metropolitan areas …”•  Choose “K” for“Kentucky,” then metroLouisville.
  17. 17. Local wages Use column sortingto see top-payingoccupations.
  18. 18. Video: Location quotientA powerful tool toanalyze your localeconomy
  19. 19. Employment dynamics“… Colorado gained 128,595private-sector jobs in lastyear’s fourth quarter from theprevious quarter and lost122,675 jobs, for a net gain of5,920 jobs …” -- MarkHarden, Aug. 2, 2012, DenverBusiness Journal
  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? Up next: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis