GeoFRED® Help

About GeoFRED®

GeoFRED® is a web application that allows users to create thematic maps of U.S. economic data for geographies including states, counties, and metropolitan statistical areas. Maps can be created from over 12,000 regional data series available in the FRED® database. Regional data series include civilian labor force, residential population, and unemployment rate. Various tools allow users to customize and print these maps.

Getting More Help

GeoFRED® is maintained by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Please contact the Research Webmaster if you have any questions concerning GeoFRED® or the underlying FRED® data.

How do I interpret the legend?

The legend explains how to read the map.  The colors illustrate levels of information.  For instance, when looking at unemployment rate data, the lighter colors illustrate lower levels of unemployment.  As the unemployment rate goes up, the colors gradually become darker.  The map allows users to adjust the number of levels and the colors, as well as how the levels are determined (equal spacing of the data or equal spacing of the number of states with each color).

How do I move around in GeoFRED?

Zoom In / Zoom Out

To zoom in or out on the map you can use the zoom slider in the upper right corner of the map.

Alternatively when you click on any area in the map, a popup box will apear. At the bottom of the box are links you can click to zoom in or out at the particular point on the map.


You can quickly pan by clicking on the directional triangles located in the upper right corner of the map (above the zoom slider).

How do I make changes to the data on the map?

The Edit Data & Layers button offers the ability to change the map display using three tabs—data, classifications, and layers. The data tab changes the source of the data (geography, data series, frequency, and date). The classifications tab affects the number and type of classes displayed, and the layers tab allows users to change the geography displayed on the map.

Changing the Data Series

By default, the map will display the levels of Unemployment Rate by State for the most recent month available. To select a different data series, click on the Edit Data & Layers button above the map. In the box that appears, select the Data tab. You can then select the geographic area, data series, frequency, and time period of the data you wish to view. Selecting a frequency that is not native to the series (i.e., selecting Annual for monthly data) will average the values.

Editing the Data Classes

Click on the Edit Data/Layer button above the map. In the box that appears select the Classifications tab. Here, you may modify the class method, number of classes, color scheme, and time period of the data classes.

Class method
For classing method, you can select either Equal Interval or Fractile. The Equal Interval method assigns data to classes that are composed of the same value range for each class. The number of classes selected will divide the data into that amount of equal classes. The Fractile method assigns data to classes that are created to contain a certain percentage of data in each class. If the number of classes is five, the data will be split so that approximately 20% is contained within each class.

Time period options
There are two choices for the time period that is used to define the classes. Selecting the option Current Observation Period will base the classes on the data available for the current observation period of the data displayed on the map. Selecting All Observation Periods will base the classes on the entire series of data available. This option may be useful when comparing data between multiple time frames.

Location as a factor in calculating the classes
You may also choose to calculate the classes using the data from the Entire Country or only the Areas in the Current Frame. For example, if you zoom into the state of Missouri while viewing county level data, then select the option to base classes on data in the current frame, the classes will be calculated from only the counties that are seen in the zoomed in view.

Where are Alaska and Hawaii?

To find Alaska and Hawaii quickly, you can use the icons in the lower left corner. Simply click on the picture to jump directly to that state.

Alternatively you can use the Search Locations button and enter the city or state you wish to find. Click on the one you want (there are often many choices—the city, the MSA, perhaps a county with the same name…). GeoFRED will center over that location.

What if the state shows up unshaded—it appears white?

A state without a color (white) has no data. Sometimes a state has no data because there isn’t enough of an industry to provide the data with confidentiality (e.g., Alabama and mining); other times it is because the data provider has some technical issues with gathering the data (employment and population data for the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina).

How do I change geographic boundaries and land features?

Click on the Edit Data & Layer button above the map. In the box that appears select the Layers tab. Check the boxes for the layers you wish to display on the map. There is one box for the boundary of the area and another for its label.

How do I get charts and the data for an area?

To get charts and data for a particular area:
Clicking on any point on the map opens a box that lists the title and value of the series currently displayed on the map. Clicking the See More Data link at the bottom of the box will then display the complete time series.

To see other data available in the same area:
The Other Data Series tab will show the current value for all available series (the series are displayed in alphabetical order) for the selected area. 

Getting the data and charts for any series in that area:
Click on the title of any data series.  You will be linked to the chart in FRED (the source of all data in GeoFRED), which is itself customizable by date and available in many different ways (data values, percent change, percent change from previous year, etc.). 

To get the data values for the series currently displayed on GeoFRED:
The Current Data Series  tab provides the numerical value for the current series, and provides historical values back to the beginning of the series.

To see the graph for the current data series displayed on GeoFRED:
The Graph tab displays charts for the data currently displayed on the map.  The chart is customizable by date (e.g., 5 years, 10 years, all years). 

Printing/Downloading the Map and Data

There are two easy ways to print the map. Clicking the Print link will open the map in a new browser window, specially formatted for printing. Or you can click the PDF link to download a printer-friendly PDF. The PDF will also include a list of the data values used to color the map.

Click on the Download Data link to download a text file of the data values used to color the map.

Information About the Boundary Data

Most map boundaries come from Census Bureau's TIGER database. Road data comes from National Atlas of the United States®.

Units Formulas

The following formulas are used to transform units:

x(t) - x(t-1)

Change from Year Ago
x(t) - x(t-n_obs_per_yr)

Percent Change
((x(t)/x(t-1)) - 1) * 100

Percent Change from Year Ago
((x(t)/x(t-n_obs_per_yr)) - 1) * 100

Compounded Annual Rate of Change
(((x(t)/x(t-1)) ** (n_obs_per_yr)) - 1) * 100

Continuously Compounded Rate of Change
(ln(x(t)) - ln(x(t-1))) * 100

Continuously Compounded Annual Rate of Change
((ln(x(t)) - ln(x(t-1))) * 100) * n_obs_per_yr

Natural Log


'x(t)' is the value of series x at time period t.

'n_obs_per_yr' is the number of observations per year. The number of observations per year differs by frequency:

Daily, 260 (no values on weekends)
Annual, 1
Monthly, 12
Quarterly, 4
Bi-Weekly, 26

'ln' represents the natural logarithm.

'**' represents to the power of.


Economic Terms:
Labor Force—The number of people 16 years or older who are currently employed or actively seeking employment.

Unemployment (Civilian Unemployment Rate)—The percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively seeking a job.

Mapping Terms:
Choropleth map—a thematic map based on a specific set of data.

Equal Interval—Divides the data into equal parts, and separates the colors that way.  For instance, if the data is state-level, and the data value runs from 1 to 100, the lightest color will be for items from 1 to 20, the next group from 21 to 40, and so on.  This method works best when the data is evenly spread out among all of the states. 

Fractile-Divides the data into equal number of units for each category.  This means that if one is using state level data and five colors, each color will represent roughly ten states (even if the number ten and number eleven states are very, very close to one another).  This method is useful when there are outliers in the data that would create one or two categories with little or no representation. 

Geographic Terms:
MSA—Metropolitan Statistical Areas.  These represent areas with a large population center  of at least 50,000 people and are integrated economically and socially.   The largest city in the MSA is designated the ‘principle city’ and usually is the title of the MSA.  The Office of Management and Budget designates MSAs.  There are over 300 MSAs in the United States.  Over time, the boundaries of an MSA change as the population and economy changes.  Because of the historical changes in geographic definitions, users should be cautious in comparing data for these statistical areas from different dates.

NECTA—New England City and Town Areas.  These are defined using the same criteria as  MSAs, but consist of cities and towns instead of counties for the six New England states.

Census Division—Groups of states and the District of Columbia that are subdivisions of the four census regions.  There are nine census divisions, which the U.S. Census Bureau established in 1910.  For more information on Census geography, see

Census Region—Four regions of the United States that subdivide the U.S. for presentation of Census data, as designated by the Census Bureau.  The regions are Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.  Each of the four regions is divided into two or more census divisions. 

BEA Economic Areas—Established by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, these areas define the relevant regional markets surrounding metropolitan statistical areas.  They consist of one or more economic modes and the surrounding counties that are economically related to the nodes.  The areas were redefined on November 17, 2004.  For more information, see

BEA Regions—These are a set of geographic areas that are aggregations of the states.  There are currently eight BEA regions:  Far West, Great Lakes, Mideast, New England, Plans, Rock Mountain, Southeast, and Southwest.  The regional classifications were developed in the mid-1950s.

Basic Trading Areas—Created by Rand McNally, the Basic Trading Areas are formed around a center city and are drawn to include the county or counties whose residents make up the bulk of the shopping in the center city and the trading area.  Borders follow county lines.

Federal Reserve Districts—The Federal Reserve System is made up of 12 districts located across the United States.  Districts, officially identified by number and by Reserve Bank city, were determined in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  Each Bank monitors the economy in its district and reports the conditions in the Beige Book and at the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.  The Districts are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, St. Louis, and San Francisco.