I'm trying to export an animation using ArcGIS 10.3.1. I have monthly unemployment rate data dating back to 1990 for every county in the continental US. Each month's unemployment rates are stored in a separate field.

In trying to create an animation, I have only been able to visualize this data in a way that assumes the timestamp is in the attribute, rather than in the field heading.

How can I visualize these data using each attribute field without creating a separate map by hand for every individual month?

This is a screenshot of the attribute table from the file geodatabase I hope to visualize

1 Answer 1


It's been a little while since I dealt with time-aware data in ArcGIS but I don't think it's capable of handling time-series data when the different time periods are stored that way, with each time period as a separate attribute of one feature. Instead, you will need one feature per county, per time period. ArcGIS time animations require a start and end time for each feature, so your feature class' attribute table would look something like this:

County      Unemployment    DateStart   DateEnd
Monroe      3.4             1/1/2010    1/31/2010
Monroe      3.5             2/1/2010    2/28/2010
Monroe      3.8             3/1/2010    3/31/2010
Logan       4.2             1/1/2010    1/31/2010
Logan       4.5             2/1/2010    2/28/2010
Logan       4.4             3/1/2010    3/31/2010

Then when you use those features in a time animation, each row will only be visible between its start and end dates.

If you just need to export a set of maps, each one using a different field for the symbology, you can do that with Python using the arcpy.mapping module by looping through each of your time period fields and changing the valueField property on the symbology class each time. See these questions for more on that:

How do I change graduated color class values with python?

Accessing "valueField" property of layer's symbology using ArcPy?

And ESRI's help on changing the symbology using arcpy.mapping:


  • If the entire attribute table were reformatted in this way, the file would be extremely large and dramatically decrease processing speed. Is there a way to produce maps of each attribute field without manually changing the symbology each time? Jun 1, 2017 at 20:01
  • @MarieHoller That would be possible using arcpy, if you are not interested in producing an animation and only need a set of maps. But for a time animation, ArcGIS only supports time values in two ways: either a single time field or two fields: a start time and an end time.
    – Dan C
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:40

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