Department of Numbers


Posted Monday, July 06 2009

Welcome to The Department of Numbers! This site is an attempt to unify a lot of the previous work I've done as well as significantly expand the universe of data coverage. I've previously worked to gather and interpret somewhat proprietary datasets (e.g. HousingTracker). I'll still be doing that of course, but I also plan on delving into some of the larger freely available public datasets. There's often a lot more nuance there than we're shown in the singular headline metric.

The first data product I wanted to publish is a simple but timely one: the unemployment rate. In addition to the headline number, the BLS publishes a significant number of complementary time series that really fill out the larger employment picture when seen alongside the main series. In addition to charting the main rate, I've also broken out unemployment by education level, race/ethnicity, age and gender.

I've tried to build a real framework for publishing data with this site so that I can more easily (and quickly) move from concept to product. My thought was to start with some of the more popular everyday economic metrics we're all familiar with (unemployment, inflation, savings rates, interest rates etc...), but I'd love to hear from you if you have thoughts on what datasets I should start exposing here next. Email me at if you have any suggestions. I also hope to update some of the stale HousingTracker projects and move them over here eventually as well. Look for more activity here soon!

Update: I updated some links since I moved the unemployment demographic data to it's own page.