Datablog: Does Unemployment Equal More Crime?

BY JORDAN SALINGER
July 6, 2010

Crime and unemployment: two things cities consistently battle with, but rarely like to talk about. While it may seem like these two issues are linked, with crime rising out of necessity, GOOD's recent infographic shows that a positive correlation may not exist. Working with Part and Parcel, a small design firm in New York, GOOD's Transparency graphic confronts this issue in a very direct manner. Using the FBI's crime data going back to 1989, this graphic sorts crime into two categories: violent and property crime.

crime unemp

"¨"¨[Image Credit: GOOD Magazine, Part & Parcel]

Stand-Out Facts: "¨"¨

As unemployment rose from 5.8 to 9.3 from 2008 to 2009, property crime dropped 6%"¨"¨

Violent crime has dropped 44% from 1991 to 2009"¨"¨

This infographic succeeds in describing a few complex problems and dispels the notion that as unemployment rises, crime would inevitably increase. In its simplicity, however, the graphic fails to provide alternative explanations for the general trend of dwindling crime since 1989. While it's a great snapshot of the issue, the graphic should not be a substitute for further analysis.

Bonus Graphic"¨"¨:

Recently, crime data in San Francisco has become publicly accessible through the city's DataSF website. Doug McCune, a local blogger, took the crime data from 2009 and presented it in a captivating and unique form - elevation maps. As additional cities choose to release this type of information, we look forward to the creative ways citizens will use this data.