ACS Employment Dashboard™ FAQ

What is the ACS Employment Dashboard™?

The Employment Dashboard is a visual control panel that lets you examine results from ACS employment surveys. The data presented is not a model (like the Salary Comparator). It is not intended to asses your particular employment situation. It is intended to provide an overview of salaries, demographics, and employment.

It was created with data from the ACS Comprehensive Salary and Employment Status Survey.  This survey is conducted yearly from a sample of ACS Members who represent the workforce.  Every 5 years the survey is replaced with the ChemCensus which sends the survey to the entire ACS membership.  The data contained in this application represents the collected data from 2000 until the most recent salary survey (currently 2013).

How do I use the Dashboard?

When you first begin using the dashboard the default data displayed is the median salary information for the most recent year’s data.

The screen is divided into three main regions:  The data pane (top), the region pane (bottom) and the menu bar (right).

The data can be displayed by one of 9 different regions (from west to east): Pacific, Mountain, West North Central, West South Central, East North Central, East South Central, South Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, and New England.  To see more about these regions, please see the section below.

Why is there a map of the US at the bottom? / What states are in each region?

The map at the bottom is an interactive map to examine data by 9 different regions: Pacific, Mountain, West North Central, West South Central, East North Central, East South Central, South Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, and New England.

To examine a region, simply click anywhere in that region.  A hovering dialog near the mouse will tell you what region you are about to click on.

Region States
Pacific California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Alaska
Mountain Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada
West North Central Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska
West South Central Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas
East North Central Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois
East South Central Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky
South Atlantic Delaware, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
Middle Atlantic New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
New England Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut

How do I use the menu?

The right menu is how you navigate the ACS Employment Dashboard.

Depending on what you’re looking at, the menu will display up to 5 options:

  • Years allows to select any year’s data for examination. Each year’s data is from the survey collected in March of that year.
  • Category selects the general area of data you want displayed: Salary, Employment, and Demographics. Salary will display salary data, Employment will display data related to unemployment, post doctoral positions, and full-time/part-time employment
  • Statistics allows you to be more specific with the information you want displayed. This option is only available for Salary and Demographics. In salary mode you can choose do display the mean salary, median salary, or even certain percentiles. In demographic mode you can choose to chart the absolute number of responses, or view by percentage.
  • Export will give you the option to download the entire data set as an XLS file.
  • Instructions contains a simple reminder on how the application works and includes the option to select “All Regions”. If you have already selected a region, this is how you would select the more general statistics.

What do I need to know about the Salary category?

This category is selected by default.

Here the data is displayed in two bar charts.  The data are broken down by degree (PHD, MS, BA or BS) in the left chart.  The data are broken down by employment sector (Industry, Government, Academia) in the right chart.

By default the data displayed is the Median income.  The cases summarized represent a trimmed sample of the entire data.  Anyone making less than $5,000 USD or more than $700,000 USD was dropped before the statistic was pulled.

Also available statistics can be found from the drop-down menu and include: Median, 25th percentile, 75th percentile, and Total N.  A brief explanation of each of these terms follows:

  • 25th Percentile: This represents the lower salary percentile. It means that 25% of respondents made less than this amount.
  • Median: This represents the 50th percentile of salary. This is the value that separates observed salaries into two equal halves such that half the values are below, half above. This value is less affected by outliers and other volatility in data, and is the best measure of salary.
  • 75th Percentile: This represents the higher salary percentile. It means that 75% of respondents made less than this amount. (25% made more)
  • Mean: The simple arithmetic mean of all respondents salaries. This average is very susceptible to sample volatility and outliers and is a weak economic measure.

Note: This measure does not discriminate based on full-time/part-time/temporary employment. It merely presents a snapshot of ACS members

What do I need to know about the Employment category?

This section displays employment information. You can see the percentage and count of Full-Time, Part-time, Unemployed, and Post doctoral persons. Those who indicated that they were unemployed and not seeking employment have been removed as well as any respondent who omitted to provide this information. This is standard practice for calculating unemployment.

What do I need to know about the Demographic category?

This page displays a gender and age breakdown of the ACS. The charts are ordered by descending values. The category with the most respondents appears first, and that with the least appears last.

To see the counts for each statistic, choose “By Count” from the statistics menu.

How do I choose the Entire US or All Regions?

On the right hand side you’ll see a link in the “Instructions” box. Click the link for “All Regions” to display data on the US as a whole.

What’s the statistical significance of these data?

The general “rule of thumb” is that any statistic with less than 15 data points should not be considered representative of a larger sample. In this light every effort has been made to provide access to the absolute counts for each statistic. Some options drill down so deeply into the data that you run the increasing risk of displaying misleading data.

This data is not intended for publication and is provided “as is”.  It merely represents a snapshot of a certain region and time.

If you have any questions or comments, please email

The ACS Employment Dashboard is Copyright 2013 by the American Chemical Society, Washington, DC.