Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Lies, Damned Lies and Inappropriate Baselines

Thomas Ricks wrote a blog on Foreign Policy titled “Another reason to support Obamacare.” In it, he cited a Stars & Stripes report that one of out five veterans under the age of 24 is out of work.

However, Stars and Stripes compares total unemployment to 18-24 male vet unemployment. It took me less than 5 minutes to find the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Employment Situation of Veterans Summary” which states that “Young male veterans (those ages 18 to 24) who served during Gulf War era II had an unemployment rate of 21.6 percent in 2009, not statistically different from the jobless rate of young male nonveterans (19.1 percent)” and “Male veterans age 18 to 24 were more likely to participate in the labor force in 2009 than were their nonveteran counterparts–79.1 percent versus 69.1 percent.” (Emphasis added.)

The only element where veteran unemployment seems statistically worse is recently separated veterans, at 14.7%. However, they’re entering the worst labor market in decades, and there’s fierce competition for every job.

I expect better of the mainstream media, which is evidence that I’m not a Bayesian.