The New York Times is often guilty of producing excellent interactive maps. Two germane to recent events include one produced in 2007 about the distribution of MediCare reimbursements across the United States and another, more recent map of unemployment across the U.S.
Maps are fascinating interesting ways to visualize data, and they often raise as many questions as it answers. Take the MediCare map, for example: In the upper Great Plains and eastern Rocky Mountain states (e.g. North Dakota and Montana), acute care costs are well below the national average, but outpatient costs outpace the mean. Does this say something about the availability of certain types of care? Or do those populations view doctors visits differently people in other states?
The unemployment map also houses a few curiosities. The area around Duluth, Minnesota, (population 84,167) has an unemployment rate between eight and ten percent. Delving further into the maps’ menus, we also see that it was the only area in the Midwest that suffered from a housing bubble. Yet by measure of its unemployment rate, Duluth does not appear to have suffered as badly as other bubblicious areas like California’s central valley.