It is that time of year again: the time when advocacy groups produce graphs with Y-axes that start at some arbitrary number in order to make their issue look bigger. Consider this heart-rending graph from the Working Poor Families Project (via Felix Salmon):
Why does the graph bottom out at 25, you may ask. Why indeed? This is what it looks like when it starts at the more traditional number of zero:
It looks like the percentage actually doesn't change that much, moving up slightly in recessions, and down slightly in good times. We see that now, in a remarkably deep recession, it gets a little worse. But not surprisingly so. In the top graph, the changes look approximately five times bigger than they are.