Carve Your Pumpkin With Labor Market Data

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Patrick Clapp

What can a jack-o’-lantern tell you about your state’s labor market? Chernoff faces are designed to display multiple variables as facial expressions, but in honor of Halloween we’ve created Chernoff jack-o’-lanterns.

Each facial feature on the pumpkin displays data on employment or wages in the state.

Eyes: the size of the eyes is mapped to the percent change in average annual wages per worker over the past year, with larger eyes showing faster growth. The direction of the eyes up or down indicates positive or negative change in wages, respectively.  

Nose: The larger the nose, the higher the unemployment rate as of August, 2017. The highest unemployment rates are in Florida (6.6%) and New Mexico (6.4%), while North Dakota (2.1%) and Colorado (2.2%) have the lowest. 

Mouth: mouth width corresponds to the percent change in the four quarter moving average of total employment in the state between 2016Q2 – 2017Q2. A wider mouth indicates greater change, while the direction of the mouth (smiling or frowning) indicates positive or negative change in employment. The large grins on Nevada (+3.0%),  Utah (+2.9%), and Washington DC (+2.8%) indicate the fastest growth over this period, while the nine states with stagnant or declining employment, led by Wyoming (-3.2%) and North Dakota (-2.1%), should be easy to pick out. 

One note of caution: don’t read too much into any given combination of features—your state should not be interpreted as “shocked,” “dismayed,” or “ecstatic”. One reason Chernoff faces are not used more often is our brains can pick out facial features from almost anything, and we tend to interpret some features more strongly than others. Each feature is to scale with the corresponding features on other pumpkins (nose to nose, for example), but the scale is not consistent across different features. 

Happy Halloween!  

This blog reflects Chmura staff assessments and opinions with the information available at the time the blog was written.