Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Hate to Have to Do This

Over at The Corner, Professor Stan Liebowitz writes:
The headlines say “job losses decrease” and “unemployment falls.” But these are contradictory statements since any net job losses, even if the number is smaller than the month before, imply a decrease in employment.
Well, to pick a nit, I must disagree with the Professor (noting that he is, no doubt, smarter than me, better at economics than me, and better at math than me).

Stating that "job losses decrease" does not necessarily contradict "employment falls," as neither of these statements explicitly address the creation of new jobs. If you lose 50 000 previously existing jobs, but you gain 100 000 newly created jobs, then in fact, you have both lost jobs and experienced less unemployment.

Now, Professor Liebowitz goes on to state that any net job loss is incongruous with falling unemployment (except when you consider all those poor unemployed souls who gave up looking for a job within the past month, and are, thus, no longer officially unemployed), and, in the context of the current economic climate, I'll agree (though this does not take into account retirees, but let's ignore them for now).

Still, the reason I feel that it is important to note this is that numbers and math are thrown around a lot in the news... and very often carelessly. I would prefer that the good professor not fall into that trap.

...especially when the point of his post was to decry the innumeracy of much of the media.

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