LIES, DAMN LIES, STATISTICS AND JOURNALISM…

The Wal-Mart at Steelyard Commons in Cleveland is open and perpetuating the lies that somehow that is a good thing for the city. Not the least of the lies is that those 300 hired are enjoying that magical full-time wage of $10.65 per hour, plus benefits. Bill Callahan, one of the original bloggers here, proofs the lies. Lies, damn lies, statistics and journalism department: PD story Monday about Steelyard Commons Wal-Mart turning away thousands of applicants to hire 300:
Wal-Mart’s average hourly wage in Ohio is $10.40, for annual pre-tax earnings of $21,632. For someone making minimum wage, that’s a jump. Even if $10.40 is a little less than someone made in a previous job, Wal-Mart’s 10-percent employee discount might help offset the difference.
Kevin O’Brien’s column this morning:
The good news was that more than 6,000 people recognized that those jobs - those $10.40-an-hour jobs with less-than-perfect benefits - were better than nothing.
On the Sound Of Ideas this morning, Dan Moulthrop repeated as a fact the $10.40 wage figure in connection with employment at SYC Wal-Mart. Actually, the PD is a bit confused. $10.65 an hour, not $10.40, is the number Wal-Mart gives as the “average” for full-time hourly associates nationwide. I can’t find any clear statement about whether “average” means “mean” or “median”. Critics have said that similar numbers asserted in the past were probably means, not medians, that included some very high-paid executives to skew the average upward. But let’s give Wal-Mart the benefit of the doubt today, and assume that “average” means “median”. 1. “Median” means half of all such employees make less. Did any reporter bother to ask Wal-Mart how much the employees starting at the SYC store are making? How about the starting pay for cashiers, specifically? 2. Many Wal-Mart employees are not full-time. Did any reporter bother to ask how many of the SYC store’s employees will be fulltime and how many part-time? What’s the median hourly wage for the part-timers? What are part-timers at SYC making? 3. $10.40 $10.65 an hour is an assertion by Wal-Mart management. Did any reporter bother to try to verify it from a second source, e.g. the new employees themselves (or non-hires who got interviewed)? Because, you know, real journalists have standards. P.S. ACORN used state withholding records to try to figure out the real Wal-Mart wage picture in Florida in 2005, when the company was saying its average national hourly wage was $9.63. Here’s their report. It concludes that only a third of Wal-mart’s positions in the state paid at or above the company’s claimed national average hourly wage. [Update -- 1233 -- Then there's this assessment.] Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

3 Responses to “LIES, DAMN LIES, STATISTICS AND JOURNALISM…”

  1. Nice post Jeff,

    But you miss one other useful question:

    How many hours do any of the people who work at the Steelyard Commons Wal-Mart get each week?

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Jonathan,

    This one is all Bill’s work. He just didn’t have time to cross post.

    He implies your question in No. 2, but I’ve heard the figure 40 percent for part-time workers (120 out of the 300?)bantered about. I haven’t been able to confirm it yet. I expect it’s bull shit.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  3. rae says:

    Well 40 hours a week..? bull shit ..try 30 or less ..unless its the holidays and than you will not get forty ..

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