In Europe, companies have traditionally turned to requiring that their employees take shorter workweeks, longer vacations and more time off when faced with an economic downturn… which is of course, very divergent from the United States model of cost-cutting. Even when not faced with a recession, France has a standard 35 hour workweek and Britain offers 6 weeks of paid vacation per year. However, if you are reading this from the U.S., I’m going to guess that you personally know someone who worked well over 40 hours per week but has now been laid off–and I’m sure you have seen the damage that it causes. But is one work environment intrinsically better than the other?
When I wake up in the morning, my usual routine is this: shower, brush teeth, get dressed… all while listening to NPR. I like to listen to NPR in the morning because I don’t have to deal with commercials (like television) and it’s a pretty good source for coverage of current events. Lately though, all of the news seems to deal with how the world’s economy is tanking, and frankly, it is getting to be depressingly repetitive. Two of the big issues that come up time and time again are unemployment rates (which are at a 25 year high right now) and the home foreclosure trend.
Being a geographer I decided that, before reaching for the Prozac, maybe I should take a look at a few maps of these phenomena to see if maybe there was a relationship between the two. One would assume that as people lose their jobs that they would also lose the ability to pay for their homes. What I would expect is that the places in the country that show the highest rates of unemployment would also show the highest rates of foreclosures.
Keep reading to view the maps that I am comparing: