Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries
Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries

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Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries

2.2 USA workforce

The data set in Table 2 comprises the figures published by the US Labor Department for the composition of its workforce in 1986. It shows the average numbers over the year of male and female workers in the various different employment categories and is typical of the kind of data published by government departments.

Table 2 Average composition of the USA workforce during 1986

Type of employmentMale (millions)Female (millions)

In spite of this being a small and fairly straightforward data set, it is not easy to develop an intuitive ‘feel’ for the numbers and their relationships with each other when they are displayed as a table.

Activity 1: USA workforce

Given the USA workforce data, what questions might you ask?


One question is: what is the most meaningful and appealing way to show the information? You might want to decide how best you can compare the male and female workforces in each category. It is possible that the most important question involves comparisons between the total number of employees in each of the seven categories.


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