26 January 2012

Thinking With Data Graphics ~ Fewer Unionized Workers = Lots of Crappy, Low Paying Jobs

In light of recent political events in the U.S. - specifically Obama's State of the Union yammering about the need to generate good jobs and the continuing assault by Republicans on labor unions - these graphics (and the report they partly summarize) are telling. Recently The New York Times ran a pointed editorial on the interaction; the essay nicely deflates ideological claims about the dire consequences of unionization. You can find it here.

The clear question is what differentiates the U.S. from similarly low-union-density countries like Japan and New Zealand and from moderate-union-density-but-nonetheless-low-wage economies like Germany. Unions, in other words, are only part of the story. That said, the U.S. is an outlier both in terms of the percentage of low wage jobs and percentage of non-unionized workers. No coincidence there.

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