In her new book, Catherine Mulbrandon at Visualizing Economics illuminates the world of economic data in fascinating detail. An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States, which is now available here, offers over 150 pages of beautifully laid out charts, tables, and infographics designed to give readers a clear picture of the U.S. economy from as many angles as possible. And we’re proud to see that Mulbrandon has used EMSI data to create some of the book’s most interesting charts.
According to Mulbrandon, the problem with economic data has historically been that, while it’s available in many forms, it’s been neglected by good graphic designers. As she says in her book:
Everywhere you look, the charts are shallow or poorly designed. I believe this data should be presented in a clear and beautiful manner, to help people understand what the numbers mean.
Thanks to funding from Kickstarter, as well as a grant from the J-Lab at American University funded by the McCormick Foundation, Mulbrandon has clearly accomplished her goal. Here are a pair of great examples that are built on EMSI data.
Wages of All Occupations by Education Requirements
We’ve been saying for a long time that education and training is the key to increasing workers’ earnings, and this infographic makes that very clear. Using EMSI’s data, Mulbrandon first grouped of all of the more than 800 specific occupations in the SOC classification system by the minimum educational attainment required for a job in each occupation. Then, each group was sorted vertically by the 2011 median hourly wage of each occupation; the higher an occupation is on the chart, the more money jobs in that occupation earn. The results are below; for more detail, click on the image for the full-size version.
Mulbrandon’s work here makes it very clear that attaining higher levels of education has a significant role in increasing individual workers’ earning potential. For example, just look at the difference between a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree.
Graphics like this are also great for finding intriguing outliers in the statistics. Note, for example, that air traffic controllers make significantly more than most occupations that require primarily longterm on-the-job training, while their pilot counterparts are similarly flying much higher financially than other occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree.
Jobs and Earnings of Major Occupation Sectors
The first graphic we highlighted made use of EMSI’s most granular occupation data, representing more than 800 specific occupations. This, on the other hand, focusses on the broadest, 2-digit classes of occupations, which sort all of those 800 specific occupations into 23 large sectors, to give us a sense for different types of occupation. This graphic shows the number of jobs in each sector on the vertical axis, with each sector’s median hourly wage plotted horizontally. For reference, Mulbrandon also included the median wage for all occupations combined.
Again, a few interesting data points stand out. The sheer volume of jobs in office and administrative support really stands out, especially compared to jobs at similar wage points. Production jobs, for example, pay about the same — around $16 an hour, or just over $32,000 a year. But there more than twice as many jobs in the office and administrative support sector: 24 million to 9 million.
It’s also interesting to see that while there are not a large number of jobs in life, physical, and social sciences, workers in those occupations are being paid as well as those in management, and almost as well as those in health care practitioners. Those with a general interest in sciences, however, should probably be looking into computer and mathematical sciences. Jobs in that sector are not only more plentiful but also earn an annual average of about $10,000 more. Still, the top earnings belong to legal professions, earning an average of more than $70,000 a year.
We’ll be looking at more of Mulbrandon’s visualizations in the coming weeks. For more information, and links to view and buy the book, visit her website.