COVID-19

Here’s what the crescendo of unemployment sounds like

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Jun 24, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Keystone/Getty Images
COVID-19

Here’s what the crescendo of unemployment sounds like

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Jun 24, 2020
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

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.