Blinded by Data

Noted in passing: The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled The “Lost Wages of Youth” that claimed the recent increase in the minimum wage had caused a rise in unemployment in teenagers. It’s behind a subscription wall, but you can read their data at New Republic, courtesy of Jonathan Chait. WSJ even published a line graph showing increases in teen unemployment superimposed over a timeline of minimum wage increases, 2007-present.

Now, anyone who has not been in a coma during that time period might have noticed that unemployment is up all over, and not just among minimum-wage earners. So Chait and Brendan Nyhan published another chart that shows teen unemployment has actually gone up less than unemployment as a whole during this same time period.

In other words, although data show a rise in unemployment among teens, there is no reason to assume that minimum wage increases were a cause, never mind the cause, unless you also assume that the rise in minimum wage also caused the nation’s financial meltdown. As Brendan Nyhan put it, “a preliminary examination shows no obvious statistical evidence of a relationship between the minimum wage and the teen or black teen unemployment rates once we account for the upward trend in joblessness.”

Of course. One has to ask, how stupid do you have to be to not have seen the big, honking flaw in WSJ’s presentation? As stupid as this guy.

16 thoughts on “Blinded by Data

  1. Facts are messy, messy things…
    Here’s my money quote from that “Carpe Dumb” idiot’s article:
    “Washington could at least establish a teenage, or sub-minimum, wage closer to $5 an hour. More than half of all minimum wage workers get a pay raise within one year on the job, so wages will rise naturally with experience and talent.”
    Uhm, yeah, that might be true, unless they FIRE your teenage ass to hire some teenager cheaper than you!
    To “Carpe Dumb,” do you think that establishing a teenage sub-minimum wage might negatively affect those who are not teenagers? You know, why hire that 30 year-old with a couple of children, when you can hire a 17 year-old for $2.00 an hour less?
    I’m hoping that Professor Perry is not an economics or business professor. YIKES!!! He IS one. In FLINT, MI, no less. One of the most economically devastated cities in America.
    How did he get a degree in Economics? Was he able to successfully answer a question about the number of Masonic symbols on our paper currency, or did he draw a pictire of Bambi from off the matchbook cover? No, he’s an Economic’s Professor, so he must have drawn a picture Milton Friedman.
    The University should ask itself a few question, like “What is our Doctoral candidates learning?” And, “How will they ever be able to make change from a $20 bill without a cash register to figure it out for them?”
    In the words of the immortal Phil Rizzuto, “HOLY COW!”

  2. I’m surprised the brilliant minds at WSJ didn’t also point out that if employers were to hire only half-time workers, they could employ twice as many people. And wouldn’t that be most excellent for the economy because then we could compete on a level playing field with China.

    Where do they find these “experts” — under cow pats in the back forty?

  3. Those businesses would also not have to pay health benefits to a workforce of part-timers. Another win for big biz. I’ve got a better one: serfdom or company towns. That way, they can’t leave and force you have to hire someone else. The joys of capitalism without laborers having any negotiation or redress is the also dream of our big biz.

  4. You’re right, melbradley. Serfdom or company towns — that’s the capitalist way to go. Maybe toss in some strict anti-abortion laws to compensate for die-off due to lack of health care, and require strict obedience to religion so the serfs will have faith that, while this life may suck, they’ll do just peachy once they’re dead. And above all, fight against higher taxes on the corporations lest they find they can’t afford to keep you on the payroll. Not to mention, of course, privatize everything because government only wants to take away your freedoms.

    Yup, a teabaggers dream come true. You just gotta wonder about those poor tools, don’t you?

  5. muldoon,
    Don’t insult cow patties.
    They’re just pieces of crap excreted by bovines. It takes a WSJ expert to actually ingest the crap and then regurgitate it for the masses as brain food.
    Reminds me an old joke.
    The first WSJ Op-ed writer sees a patty, picks up a piece, looks closely at it and says, “Looks like shit!”
    The 2nd WSJ Op-ed writer picks up a piece, holds it up to his nose, sniffs it and says, “Smells like shit!”
    The 3rd WSJ Op-ed writer takes a piece, licks it and says, “Tastes like shit!”
    In unison, they all say, “Glad we didn’t step in it!”
    This is what a meeting of the Op-ed team at the WSJ must sound like.

  6. There’s a barrel you could shoot fish in, if you could see them for the bullshit.

  7. By “there” I mean the article, not just the suggestion of a profitable pastime. Sorry for the infelicitous expression.

  8. This crap is what economist always say about the minimum wage, only teenagers make minimum wage and if an employer only has x dollars he/she can only hire y teenagers (present important looking graph). The reality is you can’t over simplify something like this, I think their are more than two variables.

  9. Lies, damn lies, and statistics, I believe is how the expression goes. I wonder how long ’til Murdoch’s newest crap factory starts publishing pie charts that add up to 193 percent, as so often happens on Faux Nooz….

  10. Jugheadjack — excellent point. At least a third of the folks I now see at take-out windows and boxing groceries are not teenagers. Which means they are displacing teens in the minimum wage market. Funny how the WSJ economics “experts” neglected to include that in their calculations.

    You’re right, Cundgulog, cow pats have worthy uses such as fuel and fertilizer, and I sincerely apologize to cow pats everywhere for casting aspersions on their character. I was kinda thinking more along the lines of dung beetles — you know, those little critters that take a small piece of … erm… manure, and stick it together with more pieces of manure, until they have a sufficiently large enough ball of manure to be impressive–to other dung beetles, anyway.

  11. Since the WSJ is now a Murdoch rag, I would be SHOCKED if they had any other viewpoint than that the minimum wage is a tool of satan. They would probably like to bring back indentured servitude (which really never did go away.) I almost lost my breakfast when I saw Tom Delay’s re-warmed corpse on my screen this morning. These people are relevant HOW? Tom agreed that Jim Bunning did the right thing regarding unemployment. “Unemployment benefits encourage unemployment.” This is right up there with “Let Them Eat Cake” I wish that some of the Bunning’s constituents with no place else to go after their homes have been foreclosed would go and camp out on his front lawn. They are both pitiful excuses for human beings with no regard for anything but making their next buck.

  12. Pingback: The Mahablog » Iraq = FAIL

  13. The WSJ editorial page was Fox News before Fox News existed. It was bad before Australia’s Worst Export bought the paper, and it’s worse now.

  14. muldoon-

    You know what they do when the old tools break, right? They find new ones!There’s plenty of ’em at these rallies, waiting to be used.

    Bob K-

    Have you ever noticed that dimwits like Delay never go and stay in the private sector? I think they can’t actually stand doing a day’s work, so they keep running back to the political trough. Thinking encourages thought, Tommy Boy.

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