Tom Stellman, TEDxBrookings, and the Geography of Recovery

In October, TIP Strategies founder and CEO, Tom Stellman was featured as a speaker at the independently organized TED talk event, TEDxBrookings. His presentation was part of the “Origins of Community” session and has recently been released on YouTube. Tom’s talk addressed the changing geography of jobs before, during, and after the Great Recession.

The changing landscape of jobs is a topic we return to regularly at TIP Strategies. Beginning in the spring of 2008, we sought to visualize the answer to a seemingly simple question: How did the impact of the recession play out across the country? Our original interactive map, The Geography of Jobs, (revamped in 2014) became a widely distributed illustration of the dramatic gains and losses of the Great Recession. Yet we felt that part of the story was still missing. While the media were touting the “recovery” of all jobs lost since the start of the recession (a milestone achieved at the national level during the second quarter of 2014), we were seeing a different picture on the ground.

Our latest visualization, The Geography of Recovery, seeks to illustrate the cumulative impact of the Great Recession. Using the same data that fed the Geography of Jobs, we’ve taken a different approach, comparing employment levels in each metro area to the number of jobs reported at the beginning of the economic downturn. The result is decidedly less dramatic visually, yet a striking revelation is exposed: the unevenness of the recovery. As of July 2015—more than one year after the country returned to pre-recession employment levels—fully one-third (120) of the more than 300 areas analyzed had not yet recovered the number of jobs lost during the recession.

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