The Urban Institute offers a useful tool to help local communities get a sense of possible low income job loss in the county or metro area. The Urban Institute hopes nonprofits and policy leaders at the local level can use this tool to get a better handle on job loss and develop policy strategies around them. Great idea.

For example, the tool on the iPhone estimates 25,614 low income jobs have been lost in Ramsey County. The State of Minnesota says over 50,000 unemployment claims were filed in Minnesota. The larger state number is because it covers all job losses in the county and not just low income jobs. The tool also excludes gig workers and independent contractors.

Some technical notes – I had better success using this tool to get estimates by County and Metro area on an iPhone than on the desktop. On the desktop it is easier to get census tract level data.

The desktop version offers a US map and the scrolling feature allows you to zoom in at the census tract level. However, it was tough capturing the data at the county or metro area as the screen moves to the census tract as you click on an area. This is not the case when you access the data on the iPhone.

Also to note the assumptions of the data. The tool uses data from the state of Washington to make projections for the country at the weekly level and Bureau of Labor statistics for monthly data. It is assumed that unemployment claims by sector is very similar across the nation during #StayatHome conditions.

This is what the site says about the data:

The data track losses of low-income jobs, defined here as jobs with annual earnings below $40,000, and exclude some workers, such as independent contractors and those working in the gig economy. This feature does not attempt to estimate the number of low-income jobs with pay cuts.