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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

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do vaccines mean for economic recovery?

COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, according to expert witnesses who testified at a recent hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee. Put simply, we can’t eradicate the virus because it infects other species, and there will also be folks who choose not to get the vaccine or don’t mount an immune response, according to Dr. Céline Gounder at NYU School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital. “That means we can’t only rely on vaccination,” Gounder said. She said the four phases of recovering from the pandemic are ending the emergency, relaxing mitigation measures, getting to herd immunity and having long-term control.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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