#Breitbart.com Promotes a Flawed Analysis Based on Muddled Statistics
In their frenzy to show that the newly elected TeaParty Governors have positively influenced unemployment rates in their States beyond that of other States, Breitbart.com quotes an analysis by Examiner.com of the unemployment recovery rates in the 17 states where TeaParty members were elected in 2010.
Kansas - 6.9% to 6.1% = a decline of 0.8%
Maine - 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%
Michigan - 10.9% to 8.5% = a decline of 2.4%
New Mexico - 7.7% to 6.7% = a decline of 1.0%
Oklahoma - 6.2% to 4.8% = a decline of 1.4%
Pennsylvania - 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%
Tennessee - 9.5% to 7.9% = a decline of 1.6%
Wisconsin - 7.7% to 6.8% = a decline of 0.9%
Wyoming - 6.3% to 5.2% = a decline of 1.1%
Alabama - 9.3% to 7.4% = a decline of 1.9%
Georgia - 10.1% to 8.9% = a decline of 1.2%
South Carolina - 10.6% to 9.1% = a decline of 1.5%
South Dakota - 5.0% to 4.3% = a decline of 0.7%
Florida - 10.9% to 8.6% = a decline of 2.3%
Nevada - 13.8% to 11.6% = a decline of 2.2%
Iowa - 6.1% to 5.1% = a decline of 1.0%
Ohio - 9.0% to 7.3% = a decline of 1.7%
They calculated an average of 1.35% drop in unemployment.
“The average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 1.35%”
The purpose of their article is to show that the fiscal conservatism of the TeaParty results in more job creation than the less restrictive policies of the Democrats.
It looks like this is the information they used to calculate the unemployment rates.
Everything seems accurate so far, but now things get a little strange.
The article claims the current change in country wide unemployment rates is .9% (more on this number later) There is no indication where the information for this has been sourced.
“For a comparison, in January 2011 the U.S. national unemployment rate stood at 9.1%. It is currently 8.2%, meaning that the national unemployment rate has declined by just 0.9% since then.”
They further claim that this means the TeaParty policies are doing 50% better than the rest of the country. This number has no value in interpreting nor in predicting unemployment rates. It really is valueless.
“Based on these percentages, it can be said that the job market in states with new Republican governors is improving a full 50% faster than the job market nationally.”
The article goes on to laud the three states where the drop in unemployment is above 2% but make the assertion that the improvement is due to TeaParty policies, but they do so without backing evidence.
If we remove these three outliers (we’ll get back to them) then the average improvement in the remaining 14 States drops to 1.14% which still seems much better than the overall numbers stated above. Don’t forget that the hand is quicker than the eye, and examiner.com has some fairly quick hands.
However, when the same tables used to calculate the individual State unemployment rates are used to calculate the country wide unemployment rate, the change in rate from Jan 2011 to May 2012 is 1.15% not the .9% stated in the article. I suspect their figures were taken from a different source. Needless to say, taking information from two different sources with the intention of comparing them can look disingenuous.
Here are the corrected numbers:
Majority (14) TeaParty States = 1.14%
Total US = 1.15%
This means that the majority of TeaParty States average out to roughly the same as the country as a whole, making any mention of how well the TeaParty policies are working, when compared to the rest of the country, irrelevant.
Now back to those three States we removed earlier. Remember their assertion that TeaParty policies are responsible for superior unemployment numbers.
Of the three States with above 2% improvement in unemployment, Michigan has its major industry determined by country wide markets and was the recipient of large bailout packages from government coffers. To assume the recovery of Michigan’s auto industry has not resulted in large gains in employment and that the driving factor of those gains was not an investment by the government but a result of TeaParty policies is counter factual. There is no evidence Michigan’s relatively large improvement in unemployment is a result of TeaParty policies.
The remaining two States with impressive recoveries have major industries driven by forces outside governmental policies. Florida has two industries, tourism, which relies on how well the rest of the country is doing, and the US dollar value compared to foreign currencies and agriculture which depends on favourable growing conditions. Nevada shares Florida’s reliance on foreign currencies. Because of the external drivers for the bulk of these two States’ employment pictures, individual economic policy changes by the government of the day will have little and/or much delayed effects.
The TeaParty policies in those two States have had little affect on tourism when compared to the effects the markets and the drop in US dollar value has had, so the claim improvements are due to TP policies again seems counter factual.
Contrary to what breitbart.com posted from examiner.com, there is absolutely no convincing evidence the election of TeaParty members and the application of their policies has done better or worse than the rest of the country.
What is most damning about the examiner.com’s exercise in muddled statistics is the complete absence of any mention of the policies they believe are responsible for the drop in unemployment rates. Without an accompanying analysis of those policies and how they affected unemployment rates, the analysis they did do is specious and likely purposely misleading.