Monday, September 04, 2006
Iowa Policy Project: twisting & turning the numbers for their version of the greater good
It’s Labor Day in an election year, which always means the American Worker gets wrapped up in campaign politics. This year, very probably more than other years, it’s a pink elephant playing out in the standard fare; illegal immigration, health care, education, super sized government, CIETC, in fact, it’s difficult to find an issue where labor isn’t a major part of the discussion.
I guess we might be able to say: It’s the worker stupid.
More than any political year in recent memory, issues related to the quality, opportunity and growth of our labor market is shaping an election. A recent example of election year policy-ticking is from the lefties over at the Iowa Policy Project and their new study on the state of working Iowans. They’ve picked up quite a bit of press with their No Picnic report, this is the AP story published in the WCF Courier.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Iowans are working harder but seeing little financial gain for their effort, according to nonprofit think tank.
A study by the
Policy Project found that increased worker productivity contributed significantly to soaring corporate profits in the last 15 years, but the companies have not shared the windfall with workers. Iowa
's working families, this Labor Day offers little reason to celebrate," the group said. "Measured against its regional and national peers, Iowa wages remain low. Measured across time, those wages have stagnated for most, and fallen in recent years even as worker productivity has increased." … Iowa
The study shops the usual sad story about the state of working Iowans. The data, as expected, is creatively parsed. They mix and match categories of data, lump outliers into data sets to provide for dramatic averages, and, in the most unique plea to the average Iowan, go on to run a slice & dice on median incomes with emphasis on the income woes of Iowa's highest wage earners as compared to the rest of wealthy America.
I’d love to be able to cut & paste the study to discuss the logic; however, the IPP only allows access to a PDF file and that's not a particularly friendly format for quick comparisons. I’ll just summarize my points with notes on where to find the confusing data in the IPP report.
First. Why in the world are the researchers combining the rates of change in US based corporate profits, personal savings rates, GDP and
Second. To provide evidence of
Third. It is peculiar, at best, to focus on Iowa's low median wages in the top income bracket without qualifying what population we are probably measuring – health care providers and their incomes from Iowa’s pathetically low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. If we swap reimbursement rates with
I don’t disagree with some of their suggestions. Perhaps looking at
What I disagree with is the use of incomplete and unrelated data packaged in official looking, easily consumed publications that spin out factoid-like news bites to score some minor political point. I hate that crap.
Related: Peter Fisher is a tool