5 Replies Latest reply on Feb 2, 2012 1:14 PM by Alex.Morrison

    Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types

    Daniel Hom

      Our friends at Remapping Debate have made a cool viz about how gains in manufacturing productivity compare with gains in manufacturing wages.


      A version of the story first came in the Wall Street Journal accompanied by this graph.


      Productivity is up. Wages, not so much. What's interesting though, as Remapping Debate points out, is the decision to plot the two lines on separate charts. Here's their version:



      I particularly like the use of shading, since it really calls out the disparity between the two trend lines as they move. Also, a very nice use of bold numbers to summarize the state of that particular year as well as the consistent color shading behind it. I wonder if it would be improved by having the time-series be actionable instead of having a sliding time filter.


      Any thoughts on this viz compared with the original graph?


      I'm also curious, if you have any thoughts on why this gap might exist. Maybe the increased use of machinery, which would increase productivity but possibly without increasing the cost of production (wages) since it's, well, a machine.

        • 1. Re: Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types
          Jonathan Drummey

          Nice viz!


          I was confused at first because it wasn't immediately clear that the % change was in relation to, I'd suggest adding a "since 1949" somewhere at the top. Also, to tie the slider into the graph, I also suggest adding a reference line for the currently selected date.


          Beefing up the tooltips could also help interactivity, e.g. having productivity, average wages, and gap for each. Some of this need for me comes from the fact that the viz as shown here in the forum is too wide for the box is displayed in - I've attached a screen shot.


          One thing neither graphic explains is what "productivity" is. Is it a measure of productivity/worker? Productivity of the economy as a whole?


          As for the "why", there are really two questions, one is why productivity went up, and why wages (on the whole) have slightly decreased since 1971. On the productivity side, there's the use of IT, organizations getting smarter about allocation of resources (supply chain management, etc.), and probably lots more I don't know about. On the wages side, I think graphs like this end up hiding some interesting details that can be easy to add with Tableau. For example, additional layers showing the gains over time of the "1%", or maybe corporate CEO pay as a multiple of the average worker, etc. would be interesting, since those show big increases as well.

          • 2. Re: Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types

            Hey Jonathan,


            Don't know if you saw this already -- but you can insert images and vizes into your post.



            • 3. Re: Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types
              Jonathan Drummey

              Thanks! I'm so used to "attach" instead of "insert" as a ui metaphor I didn't pay attention to the camera icon.

              • 4. Re: Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types
                Daniel Hom

                Good points Jonathan. Unfortunately that's the size of the viz the author originally created it as--didn't want to resize it for this post just so we'd have the entire original view.


                I also wonder how easy it would be to get data on subsets of the population like you suggested. That would make the viz that much better--if we could get data. Oh how many times that 'if' comes along...

                • 5. Re: Comparing wages, producitivity and chart types

                  Hey Dan, in cases like this -- it's useful to just insert a viz picture link -- you can size this so it fits and it links out to the live viz.  Just grab its public url and past it into the viz link dialog (click the blue bar chart with link beside it).