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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Moving to Opportunity
  • Volume 14 Number 2
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Geographic Patterns of Regional Unemployment Versus Unemployment Compensation in the United States—2009

Ron Wilson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) organize and clarify the patterns of human activities on the earth’s surface and their interaction with each other. GIS data, in the form of maps, can quickly and powerfully convey relationships to policymakers and the public. This department of Cityscape includes maps that convey important housing or community development policy issues or solutions. If you have made such a map and are willing to share it in a future issue of Cityscape, please contact david.e.chase@hud.gov.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


In 2009, the unemployment rate was the highest it has been in the United States since 1982 (BLS, 2012a). Cresting at 10 percent, the unemployment rate coincided with one of the most serious economic downturns in U.S. history. State governments respond to unemployment by providing compensation through insurance. Unemployment insurance comes from state-managed funding that provides monetary compensation to workers who have suffered job loss. Unemployment compensation acts as a stabilizer for both family incomes and local economies. Individual state policies affect unemployment compensation amounts and eligibility. Unemployment compensation, then, may have geographic patterns that differ from unemployment rates and reveal the extent to which states are attempting to buffer the fallout from unemployment.

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