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Columbus in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, and North Carolina

Unemployment data across several U.S. regions

Next Monday is a holiday for the St. Louis Fed: since 1937, Columbus Day, and since last year’s presidential proclamation, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This post, like so many others, offers timely examples of the data you can find in FRED—today, it’s specific to places in the U.S. bearing the name Columbus.

For these 3 metropolitan statistical areas and 1 county, we focus on the unemployment rate because it’s a good gauge of the health of a region and has units that don’t depend on the region’s size. And, as it turns out, these four regions are quite different from each other:

  • Columbus, Ohio, is a major city with substantial public employment, led by Ohio’s state government and The Ohio State University.
  • Columbus, Indiana, concentrates more on manufacturing.
  • Columbus, Georgia (plus a county in Alabama), is remarkable for its military focus.
  • Columbus County, North Carolina, is rural with a declining population.

The FRED graph above shows that the unemployment rate in these four regions varies quite a bit over time but, remarkably, consistently maintains the ranking of these four regions. (The brief exception is when the rate in Columbus, Indiana, shot up at the height of the pandemic: The many factories there didn’t have a work-from-home option and closed temporarily.)

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Columbus unemployment” and select one of the four, making sure not to take the smoothed series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, open the “Add Line” tab and repeat the search until the graph is complete.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

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