Wolfram|Alpha announced at the end of September that it had overhauled/updated/spat and polished its data on jobs and salaries in the US. And I’m glad I didn’t cover it then because according to the comments the data was a bit buggy. But hopefully it’s better now.
You can now go to WA and ask questions about employment in various regions of the United States. I can make the query teachers in South Carolina.
Wolfram|Alpha returns data with a count, information on wages, a breakdown of subcategories, and a list of related categories. In this case, I got information on the number of librarians, curators, and archivists in South Carolina, as well as postsecondary teachers.
While this information is interesting the real fun (as is almost always the case with WA) comes when you start mixing the data together.) The query teachers and truck drivers in South Carolina shows data about the two occupations side by side, graphs an employment history in SC over the last several years, and shows each occupation’s presence in the workforce as a percentage. However while it shows wages for the truck drivers, it doesn’t for the teachers — as there are many subcategories of teachers the query may be too general.
You can also compare teachers in metro regions (compare teachers in charlotte to teachers in columbia) or specific job information between states and regions. (compare truck driver salary in Montana to truck driver salary in Texas).
And remember, when we get right down to it, it’s all just numbers. Wolfram|Alpha is about lots and lots of numbers. And if you can figure out the syntax you can compare those numbers. This query works: Box office of Iron Man 2 versus aggregate salary of all California plumbers. As does this one: cost of ten thousand gallons of gas versus salary of South Carolina truck driver. (WA will even graph that for you.)
I love searching with Wolfram|Alpha, but more than that I love playing with Wolfram|Alpha. To get a sense of the scope of what WA covers at this point, visit the examples page.