Home > Uncategorized > Washington Post Incomplete and Misleading Headline

Washington Post Incomplete and Misleading Headline

Wednesday’s business section of the Washington Post featured a story by Heather Long and Jeff Stein that featured this headline:

Middle-class income rose above $61,000 for the first time last year, U.S. Census Bureau says

With this level of income, clearly our quality of life is also rising, right?

Not exactly. This sentence in the middle of the article explains WHY family incomes are increasing:

The extra pay from having another person in the home working again or working additional hours is the largest factor contributing to rising income.

And another paragraph describes how comparisons to THIS year’s income levels to those of the past might not be accurate:

Crossing the $61,000 mark signals the American middle-class may have finally earned more than it did in 1999, although the Census Bureau cautions that median income last year was not statistically different from 1999 or 2007.A change in methodology in 2013 makes precise comparisons difficult. All the income figures have been adjusted for inflation and are reported in 2017 dollars.

Well, at least the increase in family income is a sign that poverty is abating, right? Well… yes and no:

The Census Bureau also reported that the U.S. poverty rate declined modestly to 12.3 percent, the lowest level in years and a sign the economic devastation from the Great Recession is subsiding.

But by other measures, the economy is still not working for everyone. The percentage of Americans without health insurance stalled last year after several years of progress to extend coverage to more people under the Affordable Care Act.

The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, who notoriously underpays his employees and compels them to work on-demnad, only sees silver linings, though.

Still, economists say the trends on income and poverty are moving in the right direction and have been showing improvement for the past three years as the unemployment rate has fallen. Incomes would likely be rising even faster if wages were growing more.

But, alas, if incomes for employees increased and their working conditions improved and pesky clean air and water regulations were reinstated then profits for shareholders would decrease and the stock market would soften and “economists” would be VERY upset.

One other point as a former public school administrator: if test scores improved as modestly as these wage figures, the headline would NOT read:

Test Scores rose above “X” for the first time last year, U.S.D.O.E. Reports

It would more likely read:

Public Schools are still not working for everyone.

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