Labor Daze


Today is Labor Day. Shouldn’t you have the day off today?

What is the most common job in your state?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this map?

  3. What didn't surprise you about this map?

  4. What is the big trend you see in the map?

  5. Why do you think that is?

  6. What is one consequence of that trend?

  7. Is this legitimately good news?

  8. Do you plan to be a truck driver?

  9. Do you know any truck drivers?

  10. How different do you think this map would have looked fifty years ago?

  11. What do you think will happen when we mass-produce robot trucks?

  12. How does this map affect you?

  13. In an ideal world, what would the most common job in your state be?

  14. Write a question you'd like answered about this information?

  15. Why do we even have a Labor Day in the first place?

Learning Extension

You can see a slideshow from NPR's Planet Money of how the most common job in each state has changed, year by year, since 1978.

Action Extension

Today is Labor Day. Thank someone who labored for you today.

How many syllables are in caramel


World's Biggest Companies

What is the world's biggest company by market cap (total financial value)?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this list?

  3. Which of the top 5 companies do you use/visit?

  4. Which of the top 5 companies have you never heard of?

  5. What questions do you have?

  6. How many of the top 5 companies are American (hint: look at the names)?

  7. Would it be more accurate to describe this chart as business globalization or business Americanization?

  8. What kind of businesses are the most powerful companies (manufacturing, tech, financial, energy)?

  9. If you wanted to advise someone how to get rich. What would you tell them to sell?

  10. The Market cap (financial value) of Facebook is greater than the GDP (financial value) of Finland. Share your thoughts about the relative power of corporations in the comments section below:

Learning Extension

Learn more about the world's most valuable businesses in this PWC report.

Action Extension

Ask ten people to name the world's ten biggest companies and share the results in class or on social media.

Bonus Visual from 2012*

As of 2012

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Federal Government Spending as share of GDP

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the GDP did the federal government spend in 2016?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your silly prediction?

  2. Would you be embarrassed to share your prediction with your most special friend?

  3. How surprised are you by the overall portion of the GDP that the federal government spends?

  4. You do know what GDP means, don’t you?

  5. Spending by what other levels of government are not included in this chart?

  6. How do you think this spending level compares to other advanced post-industrial countries like Switzerland, Japan, or New Zealand?

  7. What are two trends in spending you see in the chart?

  8. Explain the cause of one of those trends.

  9. What is a consequence of one of these trends?

  10. Based on the trends in the chart, what portion of GDP do you think the US government will be spending by 2028?

  11. How familiar are most Americans with the data from this chart?

  12. Currently, what is the biggest single expenditure from the US government?

  13. Why do you think that is?

  14. Donald Trump, in his budget outline, has proposed increases in defense spending (very light blue section of chart) and decreases in "other" spending (darkest blue section of chart) for things like the NEA, NASA, and the CPB. Do you support that idea?

  15. If you had to cut any one area of spending in this chart, explain which area it would be.

  16. Which areas in this chart are entitlement or mandatory spending, and cannot be simply cut by a new budget?

  17. Overall, is this chart good or bad news?

  18. What would the framers of the Constitution think about this chart, besides “what the heck is a social security?”

  19. Former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” Based on the data from the chart, does Fisher's assessment seem correct?

Learning Extension

Read this swell new Pew Report putting federal spending in perspective.

Action Extension

Contact the POTUS, or if you're not at Mar-a-Lago, go to his website to share your opinion of US federal spending and what he should do about it!

Visual Extension (at absolutely no additional cost to the federal government)!!!


Aw, that's adorable.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Changes in Spending

AP US Government & Politics

By 2040, what portion of U.S. Federal budget spending will be discretionary

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending?

  3. List two examples of mandatory spending:

  4. List two examples of discretionary spending:

  5. What story do these charts tell?

  6. What is one reason for the changing nature of U.S. federal spending?

  7. What are two consequences of the changing nature of U.S. federal spending?

  8. As discretionary spending gets squeezed, what are some specific discretionary U.S. government programs that you think might get cut?

  9. Describe the general trend in overall (discretionary + mandatory)U.S. government spending?

  10. What specific parts of the government play a major role in creating the budget?

  11. Describe the U.S. Government’s budgetary process.

  12. Let's say that you felt the government was spending too much money on mandatory spending. Is there anything the federal government could do about this?

  13. Overall, is this good news or bad?

  14. Why doesn't the U.S. save money and just stop paying the interest on the debt?

  15. What questions do you have about all this?

  16. In the comments section below, list one program or expenditure that you wouldn't mind seeing cut from the US federal budget.

Visual Extension


Learning Extension

Learn more about the changes in discretionary spending at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Action Extension

Plug in your family information to the tax receipt calculator to see where the federal government spent your family's taxes.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Rich Congress, Poor Democracy

AP U.S. Government and Politics

How does the Net Worth of the Average member of the U.S. Congress compare to the Net Worth of the Average American?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this data tells?

  3. Is this good news?

  4. What is one consequence of such a Disparity in wealth between congress and the average American?

  5. What are three hurdles to winning a congressional election for candidates who are poor?

  6. How do you think the wealth of Congress impacts the policy that Congress makes? 

  7. Explain how The current president’s wealth (billionaire) impacts how he governs?

  8. The net worth of the average American is $68,828. Why do you think that is so much lower than Congress?

  9. What has happened to the net worth of Congress since 2007?

  10. What has happened to the net worth of the Average American since 2007?

  11. What do you think the net worth of the average Congressperson and of the average American was 50 years ago?

  12. Why do you think the Senate is so much wealthier than the house?*

  13. What do you think the Framers (all white, all male, almost all rich) would have thought about the disparity between the wealth of Americans and their congress?

  14. What opinions would the typical American liberal and conservative have about this data?

  15. Are you surprised that Democratic House members are richer than Republican House members?*

  16. How do your Senators and Representatives stack up on the wealth list?

  17. What most surprises you about this data?

  18. What would you wish that this data looked like?

  19. Here is an argument: The american dream is to be wealthy. Congress is made up of people who have fulfilled the American dream. The winners should be the leaders. Why would we elect poor people (the ones who have lost)? React to this argument:

  20. Make one counterclaim to this argument.

Learning Extension

Watch this video on the richest members of the 115th Congress. And here are some cool charts from Congressional Quarterly about Congressional wealth, including this one where the members of Congress are ranked by wealth.

Action Extension

Share the congressional wealth chart on social media asking friends to comment. Share the best comments in class or online.

Visual Extension

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

Quokka Extension

Yes they are real!

Yes they are real!