April 04, 2004

No, Really, Things Are Terrible

Owen has linked to this article (I won't) about an upcoming report which was deliberately designed to show that nearly half the population of Milwaukee is out of work. Before even considering what is wrong with his analysis, I would like to point out that it is the job of the director of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Center for Economic Development to make Milwaukee attractive to business. Given his efforts to do the opposite, he should be summarily fired for cause.

The study gives percentages of Milwaukee residents who are employed, by race, and compares that to a national average, which by my calculation is about 5% better. This tells us next to nothing. How does Milwaukee compare to industrial cities of the same size, and how does it compare to wealthy Sunbelt retirement communities?

Without having read the study I cannot know how the data was collected, but I have reason to question its accuracy. Although I live in Milwaukee and work out of an office in suburban Waukesha county, I am, as far as the paperwork is concerned, employed in Illinois. Since no job I've ever held would have shown up on the BLS Establishment Survey, I have no idea what impact this fact would have on the study. Because my son's legal address is under our roof, he would count as being jobless in Milwaukee. He has in fact chosen to take a leave of absence from his job to enjoy a hippie wanderjahr and at the moment is helping my sister in California around the house in return for room and board.

It will be interesting to review the study once it is made public, but I fear both the deliberate representation of immiseration and the grains of salt with which it all will need to be taken will be bad for my blood pressure.

Posted by triticale at April 4, 2004 09:15 PM

Wow! Another Wisconsin blogger--do you know Harvey? ;)

Posted by: Susie at April 5, 2004 09:37 AM

As I understand it, most of these surveys also tend to exclude freelancers--or anyone who's self-employed.

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 6, 2004 12:08 PM
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