But What Does It Mean?

I saw this chart when someone on Twitter pointed it out.  The chart shows how the US economy is currently shedding jobs at a rate much higher than in the most recent recessions (2002 and 1990).  On the one hand, it’s kind of scary in that it implies that, if the shape of the curve for the current recession is the same as those before, then we can expect to lose about 10 million jobs.  Scary.  On the other hand, what if it means that the shapes of the curves are different?

What if it means that better systems and tools allow companies to shed jobs earlier than before and essentially “rip the band-aid off” instead of slowly peel it off?  What if it is not normalized for total employed?  What if the way the unemployment numbers are collected has changed?  You get the point.

I guess I’m just skeptical of these charts showing a single data point w/ no supporting analysis.  What does it mean?!?

I’m reminded of that quote from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”