Incredibly Dumb Statistics

In the business section of today’s LVRJ, a headline blares that the state “Loses 10,700 jobs to China”. Reading in more detail, this includes 1650 jobs in “food services and hotels.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. How do you lose a hotel job to China? Are people who would otherwise come to Las Vegas going to Xian instead? Are Chinese hotel companies outcompeting Strip hotel companies? Did the number of hotel jobs on the Strip fall over the last 6 years? No.

This is one of the stupidest things yet published in the RJ. It turns out that this “study” was published by the “Economic Policy Institute”, which is notably liberal in outlook. Frothing Developer is a apolitical blog, but there is ample data that liberal policy makers think that free trade is bad and yearn for a return to the protectionist environment of the 1930’s (aka “The Great Depression”).

You have to read 5 paragraphs down before the RJ notes that

the number of Nevada jobs shipped to China pales in comparison to overall job formation here. Nevada businesses added 240,500 positions from 2001 to 2007, according to numbers from the state’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. That includes 34,400 jobs in hotels and 6,900 positions in manufacturing. Nevada has clocked in as the only state with any recent manufacturing growth, said Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association.

Note that last line. It’s so interesting, I’m going to reprint it:

Nevada has clocked in as the only state with any recent manufacturing growth, said Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out this morning

Trade negotiations are never perfect, but for half a century the trend has been toward freer trade and more open markets. This has opened vast new opportunities for global business, spreading competition and innovation that have helped to raise living standards across the globe.

So pervasive have the blessings of trade become that they are taken for granted. Americans hear a lot about textile plant closings in North Carolina, but they barely notice their expanded purchasing power thanks to Wal-Mart’s vast global supply network. Thirty years ago something as simple as cotton shirts and trousers were expensive; now they’re cheap. Fresh fruit was once rare in January; now it’s ubiquitous.

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