Fox posted this very misleading graphic comparing people on welfare to people with full-time jobs to conclude that there are more people on welfare than with jobs—by the looks of this chart, 5 times as many people on welfare than there are working.
Let’s break down everything that is wrong with this.
- The chart uses a shortened y-axis to make the number of people on welfare look 5 times as large as the number of people with jobs. 108.6 is not five times bigger than 101.7.
- The figure for the “people on welfare” includes anyone in a household where one member participated in a means-tested program. The figure for people with a full-time job is only individuals who worked.
- Many people who receive federal benefits also work—6.4 million households where someone works also receive food stamps, for example.
Fox has a history of misleading graphics, but this one really exposes their smear campaign against government programs. Charts this bad don’t happen by accident.
Wow, if I ever have to teach lessons about making charts, this one will get at almost every point of what not to do.
This includes the “make sure you are comparing comparable quantities” point.
Excellent commentary, just have to add that this chart also implies that there are only two groups…those who are on welfare and those who have full-times jobs. Obviously this is not the case; off the top of my head the two other groups that come to mind are people with part-time jobs and students.