Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data - BLS by Paul Overberg (Texas)


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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 Investigative Reporters and Editors.

This presentation focuses on the Texas 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 Economic Data - BLS by Paul Overberg (Texas)

  1. 1. Title SlideBreaking Local Storieswith Economic DataU.S. Bureau ofLabor Statistics
  2. 2. OverbergPaulPaul 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 forms; their lack ofincome, or poverty; and their jobs, the primarysource of income for most people.Through IRE/NICAR, he often helps localreporters learn about this kind of data. He alsohas worked as a science and health editor and asa local reporter and business
  3. 3. What we’ll coverReal news stories from BLS dataon:• County employment,unemployment• Metro labor force,unemployment• Metro employment• Metro wage rates• State business dynamics• How to find each type of data• How to turn data → stories!Photo by Flick user zesser
  4. 4. County unemployment“Fairfax County’s joblessrate declined slightly fromOctober to November … to3.6% …”

-- Scott McCaffrey, Vienna(VA) Sun Gazette, Jan. 17,2013
  5. 5. • Start• Click on highlighted link:“LAU tables and maps”• County unemployment
  6. 6. • If you have aspreadsheet, open the fileand filter on“Adams County, CO”County unemployment
  7. 7. • Ideas: Googleimage search for“countyunemploymentmap”County unemployment
  8. 8. Video: Excel as BLS dashboardHow to collect regular BLSdata updates withouthaving to reformat, analyzeand graph them eachmonthReview the video at:
  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.”

-- Walt Nett, Sept. 21, 2012,Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal
  10. 10. unemployment• Start• Choose first link inhighlighted section:“Unemployment rates formetro areas”
  11. 11. Metro unemploymentDirect
  12. 12. Metro employment“ … the six-countyChattanooga region added3,900 jobs in the most recent12-month period …”

-- Dave Flessner, Jan. 1, 2013,Chattanooga Times
  13. 13. Metro employmentStart• Table 1: Labor force, unemployed• Table 3:
  14. 14. Metro employmentStart• Table 1: Labor force,unemployed• Table 3: Employed
  15. 15. Local wages“… Miami-Dadefinishes in the middleof the pack. ... averageweekly wage grew to$880 in the thirdquarter of 2011, a 3.3percent gain ... .”-- Douglas Hanks,,May 11, 2012
  16. 16. Local wagesStart• Choose second link of fourthsection: “For 375 metropolitanareas …”• Choose “T” for “Texas,”then “San Antonio-NewBraunfels,TX”
  17. 17. Local wages-- Use columnsorting to seetop-payingoccupations-- In Firefox,use add-on calledTableTools2
  18. 18. Video: Location quotientA powerful tool toanalyze your localeconomyReview the video at:
  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 …”

-- Mark Harden, Aug. 2, 2012,Denver Business
  20. 20. Employment dynamicsStart• Click on link for Table 6
  21. 21. Employment dynamics
  22. 22. Employment dynamicsTo explore much deeper:
  23. 23. Questions?Thanks for coming!Paul OverbergUSA TODAYpoverberg@usatodayTwitter: @poverberg  http:/      for workshop slides, videos, handoutsPhoto by Flickr user Xurble