Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

With some occupations, people make more annual income than others. Obvious. But we typically see figures in terms of means and medians when in reality, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

The chart below shows the spread for major occupation groups, for several decades. Imagine you randomly select 50 people from each group, and this is what their annual income probably looks like.

The data for 2000 and earlier comes from the decennial census, and the data for 2010 and 2014 come from the American Community Survey.


As you progress through time, you’ll notice the distributions of income spread out more. This is especially obvious when you switch between 1960 and 2014. With the exception of lower paying jobs in areas such as food preparation and cleaning, it looks like there’s more opportunity to earn a higher salary (among those who have jobs at least).

That said, even if a job typically pays well, there are still people at the lower end of the bracket.

Make a Moving Bubbles Chart to Show Clustering and Distributions

Here’s how to make a chart similar to this one.

Nerd Notes

  • This is total personal income for individuals, as opposed to salary from an employer. I didn’t want to minus out the self-employed, but consequently the dollar values include things like welfare and retirement income.
  • The occupation groups are broad. See here for detailed listings.
  • I adjusted for inflation and binned by $5,000 increments, but it’s probably worth noting that some of the binning you see is from rounding.
  • I downloaded the data from IPUMS, which makes Census microdata much easier to grab.
  • I’m not fully sold on using a force-directed graph instead of histograms to show distributions, but I do like that it gets you closer to the individuals that the data represents.
  • I analyzed and prepared the data in R and made the final visualization with d3.js.

Become a member.
Get unlimited access to tutorials, courses, and practical guides. Make great charts.

Join Today

Membership

This is for people interested in the process of creating, designing, and exploring data graphics. Your support goes directly to FlowingData, an independently run site.

What You Get

  • Learn to make any chart with instant access to step-by-step tutorials.
  • Download source code and files to use with your own data.
  • In-depth courses on visualization to learn at your own pace.
  • Stay up-to-date with additional resources and visualization tools.
  • Get the members-only newsletter.

Favorites

Peak Non-Creepy Dating Pool

Based on the “half-your-age-plus-seven” rule, the range of people you can date expands with age. Combine that with population counts and demographics, and you can find when your non-creepy dating pool peaks.

The Most Unisex Names in US History

Moving on from the most trendy names in US history, …

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2014

It’s always tough to pick my favorite visualization projects. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.