Essential Data about Essential Work: Data Visualization and Querying Tools for Understanding Maintainers in the Workforce

COVID-19 has forced us to confront critical disparities in the U.S. as upwards of 8 million people have slid into poverty since May, 2020.  Many of them fall into the category of “essential workers” whose labor is indispensable to the American economy.  We call them “the maintainers” because they provide healthcare, electricity, the Internet, food, water, sewage, and transportation–in short, the critical infrastructure underpinning comfortable lives, even if they themselves do not earn enough to support their families. United For ALICE and The Maintainers highlight this imbalance through distinct but complementary frames.


United For ALICE and The Maintainers want to develop a web-based data platform leveraging existing and new occupational and socioeconomic data to provide policymakers and the general public with a clearer picture of our economic landscape. In addition, we seek to raise awareness of this critical part of our economy through a dissemination campaign with  “data stories” and building a learning community.

How it relates

Essential Data about Essential Work is rooted in The Maintainers values of Research, Care, and Capacity: Americans who occupy positions essential to maintaining America’s critical physical and human infrastructure are unable to afford even household basics like housing, child care, and food. This project provides a tool that enables existing research that documents the material inequalities and harm perpetuated by innovation-speak. By enabling broader access to and requiring deep engagement with economic data gathered and synthesized by United for ALICE, we hope to have broad impact in government, industry, and the academy.


United for ALICE