Jason Furman’s graph of the year: It would be terrible to let unemployment benefits expire

December 30, 2013

Time has its "Person of the Year." Amazon has its books of the year. Pretty Much Amazing has its mixtapes of the year. Buzzfeed has its insane-stories-from-Florida of the year. And Wonkblog, of course, has its graphs of the year. For 2013, we asked some of the year's most interesting, important and influential thinkers to name their favorite graph of the year — and why they chose it. Here's Jason Furman's.

furman graph

This chart conveys the progress we have made with the total unemployment rate down significantly from its peak of 10 percent in late 2009. It also pinpoints the most significant immediate economic challenge we still face: while the short-term unemployment rate is back near its pre-crisis levels, the long-term unemployment rate remains higher than at any point from we began collecting records in 1948 to the onset of the Great Recession.

And the chart also helps guide some of the policy responses, including making it clear that anything that helps the overall economy recover—like the budget deal that just concluded or the President’s infrastructure proposals—also helps the steady reduction in long-term unemployment. And also that it would be terrible and in fact unprecedented to let extended unemployment insurance expire when long-term unemployment is still this high.

- Jason Furman is chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

See all the graphs of 2013 here, including entries from Bill GatesJonathan FranzenPatty MurrayTyler CowenBill McKibbenEmily OsterTa-Nehisi CoatesBrian GreeneChuck Schumer,  Chris Hayes, and Ron Wyden.

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