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COVID & Unemployment

Here’s what the crescendo of unemployment sounds like

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Jun 24, 2020
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Keystone/Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Here’s what the crescendo of unemployment sounds like

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Jun 24, 2020
Heard on:
Keystone/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

One of the early markers of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced recession was the response of the stock market. From mid-February to mid-March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average zigzagged downward from a record high on Feb. 12 to historic lows. Back in March, “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Jordan Wirfs-Brock, a doctoral candidate in information science at the University of Colorado Boulder, about her “sonification” of the data.

“Sonification is any technique for taking sounds and using them to convey data and information,” she told Ryssdal then. That could be “anything from an alarm to an algorithmically composed piece of music.”

Wirfs-Brock has created a new sonification using weekly unemployment data from the U.S. Department of Labor from February to June. She incorporated two metrics into her sonification: new unemployment claims and weekly unemployment claims. She also sonified weekly unemployment data from the peak of the Great Recession, January 2009 to August 2009.

Wirfs-Brock spoke with Ryssdal about her new sonifications, explaining how listeners can approach the sonified data and what they can learn from listening.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

Sonification of unemployment data from February 2020 to June 2020.
Sonification of unemployment data during the peak of the Great Recession, from January 2009 to August 2009

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