ArcGIS Living Atlas

County-level unemployment layer updated monthly now in ArcGIS Living Atlas

Earlier today (Wednesday, April 29th), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put out their preliminary county-level unemployment numbers for March 2020. This data is now available in one of the newest layers in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World: Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Unemployment (current 14 months). This is a multi-scale layer that contains state and national numbers for reference.

screenshot of the layer's card as it will appear in Living Atlas search

This layer will update every month soon after Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data release

That’s correct! Any maps you make with these layers will be refreshed with new data values very soon after the new data is available. This means you do not have to build new web maps each month, because your maps will always display the latest data. We do recommend you check your maps after the data is refreshed to make sure that your symbology choices still make sense given the new values.

How can I use this layer?

Add this layer into a web map straight from Living Atlas. You can create a customized web map to use in a StoryMap, dashboard, configurable app, or to embed in your organization’s website. Perhaps start by filtering to your state, or changing the pop-up configuration to better serve your needs. Some example maps show the change in those unemployed from last month, change in those unemployed from last year, and change in unemployment rate since last month.

screenshots of the two maps linked above

A wealth of attributes provide many mapping possibilities

The attributes included for each of the past 14 months come from Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics program:
  • Unemployment rate (%)
  • Count of unemployed population
  • Count of employed population
  • Count of people in the labor force (employed + unemployed)


These numbers are not seasonally adjusted. The figures for the latest month are preliminary and subject to revision.

Unemployment Rate vs. Unemployment Claims

This unemployment data is not based on claims data, but rather, anyone who does not currently have a job, who has been looking for a job in the past 4 weeks, and is available to start work. This includes new entrants to the labor market who did not have a previous job, and those who lost their job but did not file an unemployment claim (possibly because they were working an informal job, possibly because they were nearing retirement anyways, possibly because they don’t know how to file an unemployment claim, or possibly because of all kinds of other reasons).

If you are interested in state-level weekly claims data, Esri’s Business Industry Solutions team does have a layer and a dashboard available.

screenshot of the unemployment claims dashboard, state selected is Alabama

Questions about this county-level monthly unemployment layer?

For more information and details, see the layer’s Description, as well as the long field descriptions for each attribute. Head over to GeoNet’s ArcGIS Living Atlas space to ask other GIS analysts and professionals who use Living Atlas content, or share how you’re using this layer!

About the authors

(she/her/hers) Diana loves working with data. She has over 15 years experience as a practitioner of demography, sociology, economics, policy analysis, and GIS. Diana holds a BA in quantitative economics and an MA in applied demography. She is a senior GIS engineer on ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World's Policy Maps team. Diana enjoys strong coffee and clean datasets, usually simultaneously.

I am a Senior Product Engineer on the Living Atlas team at Esri. I work to create clear and concise stories about demographic, socioeconomic, and policy topics using cartography. I also build data layers and tutorials to help others create their own map masterpieces.

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