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Visualization: Presidential data explorer

Visualization: Presidential data explorer

Explore the economic record of presidents, starting with Harry S Truman.

To examine the record of presidents regarding economics, I gathered data from several sources and present it in an interactive visualization.

Here is a description of data that appears.


Probably the most important data shown in this visualization is all employees working at nonfarm jobs, seasonally adjusted. Data is shown in thousands of jobs. Nonfarm jobs is the statistic most commonly used when measuring the growth or contraction of employment.

In addition to nonfarm jobs, I include private sector jobs and government jobs.

The civilian noninstitutional population, in this visualization, consists of persons age 16 and over, and does not include those in institutions (for example, a correctional institution, a residential nursing home, or a mental health care facility) and those on active duty in the Armed Forces.

The civilian labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons 16 years of age and older. The labor force participation rate is the labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons divided by the civilian labor force.

This data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor.

Dow Jones

For this visualization, I used the average closing price of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for each trading day in a month.


For inflation, I use the Consumer Price Index, specifically the all items in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, seasonally adjusted, with base period 1982-84=100. This data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. CPI is the statistic most commonly cited when measuring inflation.


For Gross Domestic Product, I use data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce.

BEA defines GDP as “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production.” It is the value of the final goods and services produced. Also, “GDP is also equal to the sum of personal consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment, net exports of goods and services, and government consumption expenditures and gross investment.”

The GDP series I use is in real dollars, meaning the effects of inflation are removed. This data is produced quarterly.

GDP is the most common statistic cited when measuring the size and growth of economies.


This is the BEA series Real Personal Consumption Expenditures by Major Type of Product, Quantity Indexes, for all expenditures. This series consists of index numbers, with 2012 = 100. It is seasonally adjusted and produced quarterly.

Views of data

For each president, data is presented by month, with the first month of each president’s term having number one. Presidents that served two full terms have data up to month 96 of their term, while others have fewer months.

Data is shown in several views:

  • A table.
  • A chart showing the monthly value of a statistic by month for each president.
  • A chart showing the change in the absolute value of a statistic by month for each president.
  • A chart showing the proportional change in the value of a statistic for each president.
  • Grids of the same data.

For most views, you may select a range of months and which presidents appear.

Most data starts with the Truman administration in April 1945, and is current through June 2020.

Assigning a range of months to each presidential term requires making a few judgments. For example, when a new president takes office on January 20, should that month be assigned to the new president or to the predecessor? Whatever decision is made, it doesn’t have much effect on the broad trends. For the table of presidents and terms that I used, click here.

Click here to access the visualization.

For more visualizations, click here.

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