2017 OES Wages for the United States

Here is another post in my useful data series. This one is about wages in the United States, as collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the data from 2017, which I am using because I have the percentile ranges translated into dollar amounts.

This is interesting because of discussions around what the minimum wage should be. Many states and cities within the United States have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. There is a movement to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, which would mean a pretty large shift in the wage distribution shown here.

So far, the data on minimum wage increases hasn’t shown big disruptions economically. I’m not sure that would hold if we lopped off the whole left side of this wage distribution everywhere at the same time, but I do see the argument that the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with other economic indicators.

Fermi Problems

Geoff Canyon has a post about Google's tricky interview questions. Microsoft is also known for asking these kind of questions during interviews, and you can run into them anywhere in the technical world. Also known as Fermi problems or back-of-the-envelope calculations, I ran into these a lot during college because physicists love these things. The idea is to increase your willingness to come up with creative solutions, and get over the panic induced by asking a question that has no easy answer. These are in fact a very sneaky kind of IQ test.

I thought it would be fun and instructive [for me] to simulate my way to this answer rather than do it analytically. This problem can be solved analytically, but not all problems can, so sometimes it is good to know how to do this.

Simulation code

Histogram of simulated proportions of boys

I actually set the probability of a boy being born to 0.514, since 106 boys are born for every 100 girls or so. The mean of the data turned out to be 0.504 with a standard deviation of 0.011, which is close enough.

h/t The Fourth Checkraise