Charts and Infographics

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The Flammable West: Mega-Fires in the Age of Climate Change (with real-time fire map)

Includes interactive maps and charts

As of early August 2013, 36 wildfires were burning in eight western states and Alaska, including six in California and nine new large fires in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Already this year, more than 2.5 million acres have gone up in smoke — an area bigger than Yellowstone National Park. And that’s actually a lot smaller than its been at this point in some recent years (last year, almost twice as many acres had burned by early August). Continue reading

Think You Know Your Community? This New Tool Provides the Data

Includes interactive tool

The U.S. Census Bureau recently launched a nifty free interactive search tool that allows users to obtain basic demographic and economic statistics for every single congressional district in the United States. The expansive web-app uses the most recent data from the  Census’ American Community Survey, an annual study that provides detailed statical portraits of communities across the country. Users can explore their own congressional districts for key data on demographics, jobs, housing characteristics, economic status, and education level. The one catch is that you have to know what congressional district you live in. But don’t fret! You can search for that right here, in yet another handy government web app.

Take it for a spin.

Reactions to Verdict in Trayvon Martin Case Split Sharply Along Racial Lines

Includes interactive infographic
Photo credit: Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

A Florida jury’s verdict earlier this month that acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, instantly fueled angry protests across the nation. From Atlanta to Oakland, demonstrators took to the streets, condemning the verdict as racially biased.

Despite the high visibility and widespread occurrence of these protests, however, the American public remains sharply divided in its reaction to the case, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted about a week after the verdict.  Continue reading

Why America Stopped Making Its Own Clothes

Includes data visualization and video

Try this on for size:

In 1960, an average American household spent over 10 percent of its income on clothing and shoes – equivalent to roughly $4,000 today. The average person bought fewer than 25 garments each year. And about 95 percent of those clothes were made in the United States.

Fast forward half a century.

Today, the average American household spends less than 3.5 percent of its budget on clothing and shoes – under $1,800. Yet, we buy more clothing than ever before: nearly 20 billion garments a year, close to 70 pieces of clothing per person, or more than one clothing purchase per week.

Oh, and guess how much of that is made in the U.S.: about 2 percent.

Browse through the timeline below to see how dramatically the cost and origin of our clothing has changed. And then continue reading to find out why.

Continue reading

Who Made Your T-Shirt? The Hidden Cost of Cheap Fashion

Includes video/audio clips and infographics

(Photo by Art Cummings/Flickr)

 

Everyone likes a good deal.

And for that reason, most of us have flocked to clothing stores like H&M and Old Navy for the unbelievably cheap and expansive selection they offer.

T-shirts for five bucks; jeans and dresses for under $20. It’s almost like you can’t afford to not buy it.

Clothing is cheaper now than it’s ever been: today average Americans spend less than four percent of their total income on their wardrobes, about half what was spent 50 years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s almost cheaper today to buy a whole new wardrobe than to pay to wash your old one (a bit of an exaggeration, yes, but really not all that far off).

But you know the saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Same thing goes with your $5 t-shirt – it comes with some steep hidden costs. There’s no possible way retailers like H&M could be making billions in profits selling clothing at such low prices without there being some catch.

So what are we, the consumers, not seeing?

Continue reading

11 Million Strong: Counting America’s Undocumented Immigrants

Includes interactive map
Credit: Flickr/Jonathon Mcintosh

A roadside sign just north of the Tijuana border crossing. (Credit: Flickr/Jonathon Mcintosh)

What’s the plan for America’s 11.1 million undocumented immigrants?

It’s the million dollar question, and the most divisive element of the Senate’s sprawling new effort to overhaul the country’s messy immigration system. After months of painstaking negotiation, a bipartisan group of senators, known as the “Gang of Eight”, recently unveiled a proposal to — among other things — create a path to citizenship for the millions who live here in the shadows. But legislators have made abundantly clear that this proposal is a far cry from “amnesty”. The path they outlined for almost all the undocumented (except for young “DREAMers” who would be on a streamlined 5-year path) is a tedious, decade-plus-long process full of steep hurdles and strict conditions, in which citizenship is a distant destination at the end of a long journey. Continue reading

Infographic: How Has Immigration to America Changed in the Last 50 Years?

Includes infographic

census_infographic_snippetOver the last 50 years, America’s foreign-born population has changed dramatically in size, origins, and geographic distribution. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1960 immigrants (both legal and undocumented) represented roughly 1 in 20 residents in the U.S. Most of them came from European countries and settled in the Northeast and Midwest. Today, it’s a whole new ballgame: about 1 in 8 U.S. residents are now foreign-born, the vast majority are from Latin America and Asia, and most live in the West and South.

The infographic below, produced by the Census Bureau, uses data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey to illustrate the massive changes that have occurred over the last half century. Continue reading

History of Immigration in America: A Turbulent Timeline

Includes interactive timeline and chart

Ever since the first Europeans landed here over four centuries ago, America has had a conflicted relationship with its newcomers. It’s a serial drama that continues today in the halls of Congress, as legislators wrestle over a new round of immigration reform. We are, of course, a nation of immigrants, a destination for huge numbers of people from around the world. And the vast majority of us – everyone, in fact, except for American Indians – can trace our roots to foreign lands. Despite that common thread, though, America has not always treated its newest residents with empathy.

There have been four major waves of immigration to America, the last of which – mainly from Mexico, other Latin American countries, and Asia – continues today. Several themes play out consistently in all four chapters:

  • Each successive wave of immigrants has been, to an extent, a reflection of social and economic conditions elsewhere in the world, and within the U.S. itself.
  • Nearly every cycle of newcomers has faced animosity and backlash from already assimilated communities.
  • The history of America’s immigration policy is a swinging door that often opens during periods of economic prosperity and slams shut when times get tough.

Scroll through the timeline below to follow the tangled history of America’s ever-changing immigration policies. (Easiest to view in full-screen mode) The interactive chart beneath it shows rates of legal immigration from 1820 to the present (use the scroll bar to zoom into specific chunks of time).

Immigrants obtaining legal permanent residency, 1820 to 2012

Note: In 1820, 8,385 immigrants legally entered the United States. The Census from that same year listed the total U.S. population at 9,638,453 (of which 1,538,022 were slaves.)  In 2012, the U.S. population was 312,780,968, and there were 1,031,631 legal immigrants.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics

View data table

14 Key Infographics About America’s Immigrant Population

Includes infographics

A Portrait of U.S. Immigrants

As Congress haggles over comprehensive immigration reform, it’s worth taking a look who America’s immigrant population actually is. The following infographics, compiled and designed by the Pew Research Hispanic Center, illustrate findings from its analysis of the nation’s foreign-born population. The information is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, which counts both legal and undocumented immigrants. Continue reading

How Does the Government Spend Your Tax Dollars?

Includes tax visualizations
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Getty Images

Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Well, the deadline for the latter inevitability (and hopefully not the former) is just around the corner.

For many Americans, mid-April means last minute scrambling and groaning, a last ditch effort to get taxes filed by the April 15 deadline.

So what happens to all that hard-earned cash of yours?

The federal budget – on which the government operates – consists mainly of revenue from income taxes and payroll taxes. In an effort to demystify what the government actually does with that cash, Google and Eyebeam last year put out a call to graphic designers and developers to help visualize how our federal income tax dollars are spent. The Data Viz Challenge, as it was called, drew some very cool entries, including the following interactives (click on each to explore the multimedia versions).

 

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Where Did All My Tax Dollars Go?
Designed by Anil Kandangath, this won first place in the contest. It allows users to enter their income and view a clear breakdown of what services that money went towards.

 

 

Every Day Is Tax Dayclock
Designed by Fred Chasen, this project took second place in the contest. It allows viewers to explore how many hours they actually spend working directly for the government over the course of a year, and what programs that cash funds.

 

 

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Federal Income Tax Receipt
Although not actually an entry in the contest, this is a good straightforward visualization produced by the National Priorities Project that spits out a simple itemized receipt of your tax breakdown based on income.