Union membership

January 27, 2013 § Leave a comment


You can find annual union membership figures on the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpslutabs.htm.

But the BLS stats go back just a dozen years. If you want to see how far union membership has declined over several decades, try the Unionstats database, which is maintained by scholars at Georgia State University and Trinity University. http://www.unionstats.com

This will take you back to 1973, broken down by various sectors. The database has some categories that I hope to chart in the future, such as union membership by very granular occupation categories, as well as state membership density from 1964 to date.


State gun laws

January 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

guns in america

The federal government enforces a few basic gun laws: you generally can’t have a machine gun or a silencer; you can’t buy a gun if you are crazy, you are a gun addict or have been convicted of a major crime; and you have to submit to a background check before you plunk down your money on a shiny Smith & Wesson. Beyond that, it’s up to the states to say whether you can conceal a gun, own super-size magazines or buy a bunch of rifles at once.

You face a mighty challenge sorting out these state laws for your readers with an infographic. I’ve found that the best way is to select your topic first—say, background checks at gun shows—and then compile a list of which states regulate it and to what degree. I used to get this info from The Brady Campaign, but then I discovered that they get their material from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Law Center keeps very good, up-to-date lists of state gun laws. You can find them here: http://smartgunlaws.org/search-gun-law-by-gun-policy/

American Time Use Survey

June 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

American Time Use Survey

Each year since 2003, usually in late June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a snapshot of how Americans use their time. The Wall Street Journal graphic shown here is one example of what you can do with numbers from the report. This graphic just scratches the surface. The BLS counts time use in a number of ways, and breaks it down by sex, age and employment status. The report also includes a section just on how Americans spend their leisure time. The American Time Use Survey can be found here:


Lord’s Resistance Army

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

When the Obama Administration sent troops into Africa to help the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, I needed to produce a map showing where they LRA operates—and fast. I immediately turned to Reliefweb, which coordinates information from humanitarian aid organizations, and to OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the U.N.

Reliefweb and OHCA provide detailed and up-to-date information on all kinds of humanitarian crises, including atrocities and displacement brought about by the LRA. OCHA frequently updates the map shown below with details on the LRA’s attacks and their effects.




Gay rights

October 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I usually turn to Human Rights Campaign for chart data on gay rights, so I was happy to learn a couple of new sources from this New York Times graphic, which ran on Oct. 8, 2011, with this story on same-sex marriage in Portugal: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/opinion/sunday/bruni-same-sex-marriage-in-portugal.html
The first is Freedom to Marry http://www.freedomtomarry.org/resources/all/c/international, which offers info on gay marriage around the world. The second is the ILGA http://ilga.org/, which provides info on countries that punish couples for being gay.

College tuition costs

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

If you want to keep track of skyrocketing college costs, consult the College Board, which puts out its “Trends in College Pricing” report each year in the fall. Above is the Wall Street Journal’s depiction of inflation-adjusted costs for tuition, room and board based on the College Board’s most recent data.


The report is a trove of data on topics such as teacher salaries, student aid amounts and state spending. You won’t find much information on individual institutions: the report breaks out costs for state flagship universities and provides state averages, but that’s it.

Here is a link to the College Board’s tuition report:


Evolution and creationism

August 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

No comment here. I just thought you might enjoy comparing graphics on evolution and creationism. The one above is from the Washington Post. Below, from Biblechronology.org

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