MakeoverMonday: Inequality in the US

This week provided a good challenge. It’s difficult to present data which divides one percentage (US Wealth) into categories about another percentage (household income).

My first try is with an Area chart. I like the area chart because it shows part-to-whole for the entirety of US Wealth:



But it doesn’t quite punch home the differential between bottom 90 and top 0.5. Could I do that another way?

I chose to drop the history and focus on just the most recent year.

How about a stacked bar?


Or a bar chart?



They’re ok but the fundamental problem is that this approach doesn’t capture the size of “Bottom 90%”. The words “Bottom 90” don’t capture that magnitude of the inequality.

To tell this story in the most powerful way, I think we’d need a way to encode the 90%/0.5% households, too. And rather than spend time making that viz, I’ll share this video instead. It does one of the best jobs of showing the extent of inequality I’ve ever seen:

This week’s original had some annoying design choices.

What I liked:

  1. The legend was clear
  2. Everything that needs to be labelled is: axes, data sources, etc

What I didn’t like:

  1. The tick mark interval on the x-axis. 1917, 1927? Make it 1920, 1930, etc
  2. No need for the dual axis labels
  3. Lots of fonts
  4. Nothing is aligned or spaced out nicely. It’s all cluttered and creates an amateurish look.

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