This online activity demonstrates how simple it is to use key tools in GeoFRED to focus on regional economic growth and development. The activity examines U.S. unemployment data at the county level to explore how employment was affected by the energy boom around the time of the Great Recession.
Beginning in late 2007—following a worsening global financial crisis—the Great Recession lasted until mid-2009 when U.S. real GDP resumed its upward growth path. During that 1½-year period, the number of Americans unable to find work spiked, driving the unemployment rate to its highest levels in a generation. In the face of such a broad economic downturn, many workers broadened the geographic boundaries of their job searches seeking an economy with jobs instead of layoffs.
While most of the country’s economy was contracting, one area in particular experienced a remarkable expansion: the oil and gas fields and adjoining counties of the Upper Great Plains of North Dakota and Montana in particular. This activity illustrates the contours of an ongoing and distinct regional economic expansion.