Unemployment numbers before and after unskewing: a lesson in biased chart-making

Since unemployment is at its lowest point since President Obama took office, good conservatives need to turn to a different statistic in order to convince people that the entire economy is imploding and on the brink of disaster and P.S. it’s all because of Obama.

One of the most popular statistics to use is the number of people not in the work force. This is the common theme on talk radio and social media alike:  the official unemployment numbers are fake and stupid and should be ignored, because they do not consider the number of people who are not part of the workforce.

To drive this point home, the following graph has been making its way around the #TCOT Twitterverse:

Number of people not in the labor force

HOLY CRAP! Look at that HUGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE who are not part of the work force! That’s some scary shit! Obviously the economy is on the brink of collapse, and liberals are making everyone lazy and destitute, and it’s all because of Obama, and so on.

On LiberalBias.com we have a term for graphs like this: unskewed.  That is to say, any information or data or facts that might possibly give people a non-conservative opinion of the world have been delicately… removed from the graph.

As a game,this weekend we asked our Twitter followers to identify some of the liberally biased facts that have been removed from this graph. Our very intelligent followers were definitely up to the task!



That’s right! Conservatives know that when you want to make a graph look really scary, you have to emphasize the differences that you want emphasized. The above graph makes it look like the number has increased ninefold, because it only shows the increase over a very narrow range.




By showing the raw number of people who are not in the labor force, this graph leaves out all kinds of relevant (but liberally biased) data, such as the population growth rate, and the various factor that might be contributing to changes in the population that might be leading to a lack of participation that have nothing to do with how well the economy is doing, like the age composition in the population.




Finally, the graph seems to accelerate as time goes on, which conservatives just know is because Obama is destroying the universe with his evil liberal policies. However, the graph certainly was increasing even during the Bush and Reagan years.

So, just for curiosity, what would this graph look like, if all of that messy, liberal data were included?

Warning: this graph contains actual relevant facts to interpreting results, which are known to have liberal bias.
Warning: this graph contains actual relevant facts to interpreting results, which are known to have liberal bias.

Here is a graph of the percentage of the population not in the labor force, for the same time range as the original graph. The y-axis is a percentage, and gives a more “liberal” perspective on the magnitude of the changes by showing the numbers all the way down to zero.

Obviously, this graph does not convey the proper message the conservatives want to get across.  Must be all that liberal bias….

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