The motivation to create the above chart grew out of a suspicion that global competition leads to lower U.S. manufacturing wages per hour.  In order to test this hypothesis, I searched for data on the historical trend of manufacturing wages worldwide.  The search was much more difficult and rewarding than I thought it would be.  As a result, I now see that even data analysis has the potential to become a means of grace.

The search for statistics on worldwide earnings was difficult for several reasons. First, the databases I found collected data on compensation not on wages. This means that the value of such things as health insurance and retirement benefits is factored into the estimate of average compensation.  Also, data on non-Western countries is not as complete as that on more developed market economies.  Consequently, the impact of competition from factories in such places as Africa and the Middle East is impossible to evaluate.  Lastly, some compensation is reported in local currencies and has to be converted into US dollars before making a comparison.

I ended up using data gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Comparisons program, as well as the database of the International Labor Office.  To convert currencies to US dollars, I used the historical exchange rates reported at fxtop.com.

The search was surprisingly rewarding because I learned more about other parts of the world, and I found that this learning increased my sense of compassion for these potential competitors.  

I did not expect to discover compassion while crunching numbers on a spreadsheet.  This experience has taught me that grace is so powerful it can transform any of our activities into a means of conveying God’s love into us.

Has an activity ever become an unexpected means of grace for you?  This could be any experience of grace that evoked a sense of repentance, faith, or love in you.