There Is No Such Thing As The U.S. Economy

While working at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in New York City, I recall overhearing a colleague comment that there is no such thing as the U.S. economy.  Instead, he said, there are a lot of little economies.  That really stuck with me and in this vein I am proud to share what I’ve been up to lately.

I have been thinking about the employment situation in the United States, especially after the Great Recession.  I wanted to get a feel for how many jobs have returned keeping in mind that each metro could have a different story.

gr-employment-indexI use R to create metro level indexes of employment and then visualized them.  I found the visualization so intriguing that I created a Shiny app.  The app allows you to produce what I lovingly refer to as moustache graph as seen to the left.  You can view the difference between the Midland, TX and the Dalton, GA’s post Great Recession employment stories.  When viewing the visualization, I am inclined to think that my colleague at the BLS was right.  There is no such thing as the U.S. economy.

Note: You can access the app at and read how the index was derived at


Beginning to Assemble Metro Economic Data

Just a quick post. I have begun assembling MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) economic data. The data as well as the scripts used to generate the data are available on GitHub at

My hope is once I compile the data running some analysis on them. It is my belief that the notion of a national economy is flawed in the case of the U.S. It is really the aggregation of a lot of other economies. They each have their unique characteristics.

The data that I have assembled include a measure of worker productivity. It is the BEA’s Real GDP by metro (in chained 2005 dollars) divided by the total employment so you get real output per worker. There is also a measure of high-tech jobs by metro using the latest Occupational Employment Statistics.