Tuesday, June 9, 2020

worst chart ever?

Wow. Daring Fireball pointed to a horrible, misleading, terrible, idiotic chart from CNBC.

The events are pretty simple to understand. One month, we lost 20 million or so job. The next month, we get about 13% of those back. (Or other jobs show up.)

How should we display that? NY Times showed "number of jobs" - starting with a baseline of 130 Million half way through the first Obama presidency, then steadily increasing until this spring. Finally, a plummet, with a bit of a bounce:

Here's how CNBC chose to display the same phenomenon:

It took me a second to even figure out what it meant. It's like "rate of change" in calculus or physics... from 2015 we see a small positive value, new jobs added. Then we lose a HEAP of jobs. Next month, we gain more jobs than usual - but all that means is 10-15% of the jobs came back, or got replaced. Not so good if you're one of the 85-90% of the millions who lost theirs!

Gruber pointed to this twitter thread with a few more honest depictions.

looks like it's now like this:

that's a bit better than I guess. Using a bar graph shakes the idea that there is meaning to the area under the graph...

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