The summer before I left university, banks - overburdened with housing bubble debts - started collapsing. My fellow students and I had anticipated that finding a job would be challenging - but not that we would get to unemployment rates as high as 9.6% in both the United States and the European Union in 2010, the highest they’ve been in almost 30 years.

So we figured it would be pretty interesting to see which government policies are reversing the trend - which is why we’ve teamed up with the Guardian Datastore to launch a competition to create the best visualisation of public data sets.

Using information from Eurostat, the World Economic Forum, World Bank, UN, IMF and some of the world's major economic experts, we want you to make an argument about how to generate sustainable growth in the 21st century.

Finding solutions to these problems is critical to the future of our society and economy. To debate the issues that surface in the visualisations, we’ll be co-hosting public conversations via Google+ Hangouts that are anchored in hard numbers. Stay tuned to this blog or the Guardian Datastore for details.

The competition is open to U.K. and U.S. citizens with a prize of $2,000 going to the most compelling, beautiful and informed visualisation. Entries are due by May 21 and results will be published on the Guardian Datastore’s new site, Show and Tell.

A new economic reality is setting in, and if we are going to master it, citizens and leaders alike need to invest in figuring out how to adapt. Check out the data from our list or bring your own as long as it’s freely available to the public - and submit your entry to!