Archive for June 16, 2012

Right Online 2012 Presentation

Apologies for the fact that I don’t have the text of my presentation in here, but I wanted to post my presentation from m Right Online panel.

Right Online Bad Data Presentation

Romney, Obama, and Executive Job Records

This is one of the Goose/Gander Visualization Series.

Recently President Obama’s team has felt that attacking Romney’s jobs record in Massachusetts tests well in the sample group.

These attacks got me thinking about executive job records.  “Where” I asked myself  “would President Obama place in a ranking of US Presidents in terms of job creation?”

Job Gains By Presidential Tenure Medium

You can also download a larger version of the chart. I find it difficult to create visualizations that work well in both blog form and Facebook-sharing form. This was my attempt at a compromise.

Is this a fair comparison? Yes and no. Part of the Goose/Gander series is that I create a provocative visual and then explain in more details what is fair and isn’t fair about it.

This Isn’t Fair

President Obama hasn’t had a full term yet

This puts him at a distinct disadvantage to everyone else (except John F Kennedy) because he hasn’t had the same amount of time to grow jobs. However it also seems pretty obvious that he’s not going to get out of last place before January 2013. That would require 300K new jobs per month every month from now until then.

President Obama came into office in the middle of a recession

In fact, he came in the middle of a recession that was worse in terms of job loss than anything any other president in this chart had to deal with. Now, he did split those job losses about half-and-half with George W Bush, so it’s not as bad as it could have been for him.

Presidents only have a certain amount of control over job growth

Actually presidents (and executives in general) only have a certain amount of control over the economy, so this entire exercise is kind of tainted by that fact. But this is the part where we point out that Obama did start this by attacking Mitt Romney’s job record in a similar way.

This Is Fair

The data Is Unassailable

I’m using the Employment table from the BLS A Tables. This is not the one that most Obama proponents prefer to use. They prefer using the BLS B Tables because they give numbers that are kinder to Obama. But the B Tables undercount employment (they only count payrolls) and everyone knows this.

I counted January-January (or whenever the president left office) for each president. I did this not because it was particularly fair but because I wanted to match how Obama has assigned himself and Romney jobs responsibility. I’m following his lead to show that, if we take him at his word, he doesn’t stand up to his own standard.

If we’re going to play the presidential job visuals game…

… this is a totally fair visual to keep in mind. Depending on the metric, Obama talks about jobs in different ways. When talking raw numbers, he likes to talk about the “last 22 months” or however gets us to the low point in the recession. When talking about month-to-month change, he likes to talk about when he came into office which was the worst point of job loss in the recession, so everything else looks good in comparison.

Fairly or unfairly, Presidents and jobs are commonly linked. It’s only fair to give a proper representation of that information.

The Goose/Gander Visualization Series

I’ve been inspired by the Obama administration to start a new series of visualizations. It was this tweet that inspired me:

“See how well Mitt Romney’s promise to create jobs in Massachusetts worked out:”

First of all, that’s not a “see” sort of thing. It’s just a number on a background.

But second of all, it has become increasingly clear that the Obama administration doesn’t care too much about context in their use of data. They will use any data that is “technically true” to make their case.

I try to play nice in my infographics. I try to provide context and improve understanding. Because of this, there are several visualizations that I’ve abandoned because, although the visualization was compelling, it didn’t increase understanding of the reality surrounding the data.

So I’m going to start a series I’m calling the “Goose/Gander Visualization Series”. If I see something particularly egregious data or visualization usage, I’m going to create something that responds in kind. The difference is that I will call out what I think is wrong with my data.

If someone decides to try to correct me, I will point to original example, insist that they call that one out and then point out that I’m not only aware of the context, I’m giving it to anyone with the desire to find it.

I will only use accurate data, no fudging the stats. But I’ll use all the tricks that the original data used. It should be fun.

Links for the Franklin Center Journalism Summit

I’m giving a talk today on visualizations at the Franklin Center Journalism Summit and I wanted an easy way for the participants to see all the links I reference.

Here is the presentation:

Visual Journalism: a Information Visualization Overview

And here are links to all the example visualizations in the talk.

The Buzz vs. The Bulge

May BLS data in CSV (Excel)

Monthly Federal Finance (and GDP)

Map of the Market

Finding Bigfoot (made with Tableau)

Geography of Government Benefits

US map by state (SVG)

US map by county (SVG)

US map by congressional district(SVG)

Seat Guru


How different groups spend their day

US Employment By State 1976 – 2009

World Cup 2010 players

Google Charts (HTML and Javascript)

Flare (visualization toolkit in Flash)

5 Things you ought to know when designing metro screens – Scott Barnes

Metrotastic– Palette Generator Preview

Grid page layout

Many Eyes

Free Chapter of Beautiful Visualization

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

May 2012 BLS Jobs Data (BLS Friday)

I’ve been a bit of a slacker, but I’m trying to get back on wagon.

Here are the A and B Tables for the May 2012 BLS Employment report in csv format

May 2012 BLS A Tables (Household Survey – Population/Labor Force/Employment/Unemployment)

May 2012 BLS B Tables (Payroll Survey – Non-Farm/Private/Jobs by industry)

And I want to capture my initial analysis so you can see what you’re missing on Twitter (and so I can come back to it later)

And Annie Lowrey has what I thought was a fantastic summary of how this jobs report felt