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Carve Your Pumpkin With Labor Market Data

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to update our Chernoff jack-o’-lanterns. Chernoff faces are designed to display multiple variables as facial expressions, but we’ve carved ours with labor data from JobsEQ.


Each facial feature on the pumpkin displays data on employment or wages in the state.

Eyes: The size of the eyes is mapped to the percent change in average annual wages per worker over the past year, with larger eyes showing faster growth. The direction of the eyes up or down indicates positive or negative change in wages, respectively.

Nose: The larger the nose, the higher the unemployment rate as of July 2018. The highest unemployment rates are in Washington DC (6.0%) and Louisiana (5.9%), while Hawaii (2.2%) and North Dakota (2.4%) have the lowest.

Mouth: Mouth width corresponds to the percent change in the four-quarter moving average of total employment in the state between 2017Q2 – 2018Q2. A wider mouth indicates greater change, while the direction of the mouth (smiling or frowning) indicates positive or negative change in employment. The large grins on Nevada (+3.2%), Utah  (+3.0%), and Arizona (+2.5%) indicate the fastest growth over this period, while frowns on only two states – Alaska (-0.8%) and  North Dakota (-0.5%) – indicate declines in employment.

One note of caution: don’t read too much into any given combination of features—your state should not be interpreted as “shocked,” “dismayed,” or “ecstatic”. One reason Chernoff faces are not used more often is our brains can pick out facial features from almost anything, and we tend to interpret some features more strongly than others. Each feature is to scale with the corresponding features on other pumpkins (nose to nose, for example), but the scale is not consistent across different features.

Happy Halloween!



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