US Economy Archive:

Home equity vs mortgage debt is about to flip back to the good side. 


Of course, this is on a net basis, so a lot of people are still underwater – 6.3 million according to one estimate (13% of mortgages).


This map is missing a proper label for the legend (sigh) but it is apparently “concentration of underwater mortgages”.

Zillow has a similar interactive analysis that let’s you zoom in, if you want to see how your region is doing:


We really need to raise the minimum wage. As some have pointed out, if a worker can work full time and still not support himself and his family, then the government has to step in with food stamps, housing vouchers, and other big government programs that everyone hates. The low minimum is basically a government subsidy for companies that don’t give a shit about their employees.  And contrary to fear mongers, raising the minimum wage does not increase inflation or unemployment.


Jobs that pay from $14-21 have been hit the hardest during the recession.


And low wage jobs make up a lot of the employment recovery. When capital is so subsidized by the government (low interest rates + QE), labor will be less in demand.


I try to stay out of most political debates, but I want to toss a chart out to add a little perspective on the “Obama has added $6 Trillion of debt” talking point.

Check out the below chart (created in about 20 seconds using the awesome free St. Louis Fed online data tools).


The gap between the red and blue lines in each year is our deficit – that’s how much we need to borrow to keep the government running. The sum of all those deficits equals our debt. Make sense?

The rate of expenditure (red line) has been increasing pretty steadily no matter who has been president.

What has really been changing, obviously, is revenue (the blue line): first from the Bush tax cuts (2001-03), and then the recession (2008-2010; because less GDP = less tax revenue).

If you look at the end of the red line you’ll see that spending has been leveling out the past two years – for the first time in a long time. Also, revenue is increasing. We are starting down the path to fiscal recovery. We probably should be patting ourselves on the back a little, but of course no one wants to give either party any credit for this.

Personally I think we can cut expenditures AND increase revenues to close that gap (and turn it into a surplus), but nobody wants to have an adult conversation about that – thus the childlike brinkmanship and finger pointing.

A visualization of where the government spends your money (and the money it borrows).  I prefer previous years’ way of graphing the total budget in the corner with circles vs the bar chart now used.


Is the American dream still alive? Can you work hard and raise your income level? Well, it kinda depends on where you live. The NYT has a couple of nice interactive tools who exploring the results of a study of the issue. (via FlowingData)




Not the best charts in the world, but combined with the narrative, they are a good quick summary.


Source: Bureau of Economic AnalysisIn billions of dollars. Source; Federal Reserve.

and so on.

A lot of tree maps are gibberish. This one drives home the structural changes in the job market quite clearly. It’s part of Catherine Mulbrandon’s awesome book “An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States”. I highly recommend her book – whether it’s for the insightful content, or for the 130+ beautiful examples of clean design.



OK, this isn’t a chart. But it is an incredibly well designed and hilarious rap video about economic theory.  Images and methods are are powerful communication tools. Check out EconStories for more music videos and mini-documentaries.

The effects of deregulation of the airline industry in the late 70s – from an article by the always insightful Steven Pearlstein.


Somewhat ironically, the original expansion of competition that deregulation was supposed to create has now entirely disappeared (the below could be updated to show the recent USAir/American merger).

Not much new here – but it is well explained.  Personally, instead of focusing on a subjective comparison of what people thought would be “fair”, I would have liked to see more visuals illustrating how this has changed over the past few decades.

For fairly intelligent discussion of whether this means anything, check out the comments over at The Big Picture.

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An addictive collection of beautiful charts, graphs, maps, and interactive data visualization toys -- on topics from around the world.

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