The R language has a long way to catch up with these tools for its ease and the diversity and the pin-pointed levels of detailed works you can accomplish with latest shape files. So, let us go with Google maps.
The assignment is about usage of county level maps, not more detailed than that.
Step1: Identify counties with unemployment rate more than 10%, based on the latest numbers released by Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2015. (50 points)
The following map is an example of counties with unemployment rate more than 10%. Some parts of Kentucky, Mississippi, California seem to be worst hit, according to the latest, DEC15, unemployment rates by counties. The merged table and the associated map that I created, looks like the one in my blog:
The key learning site you need for your assignment is to use: http://www.poynter.org/2011/how-to-map-data-onto-counties-districts-using-shpescape/141788/ However, attending the special Thursday Sync session (18FEB16) would make this an easier piece to follow.
Download the BLS unemployment rates for December 2015 using the link, http://www.bls.gov/lau/laucntycur14.txt. Download the text file, load it as "|" delimited file into Excel and remove all the other months and save only the DEC-15(P) data to create it as a Fusion table in your google account.
Download the county level shape files from my directory, https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1lyYMQJK9nEo8t1oaHZTaZ86_hTUm2POoBQ6pPk28.
Merge both these accounts using the merge details given here, with in your google account. Details of merge processes are given here: https://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232#play . This link also has details on how to create the map in minutes.
Step2: Create a choropleth map(the second map in my link) using the "change feature styles" on the left navigation panel using all the data, with out any filter (50 points)
Submit the these two sharable link as a one page submission, along with the top page with title page.