Fox Gives Right-To-Work Laws A Helping Hand

››› ››› DAVID SHERE

Fox News displayed a graphic suggesting that unemployment was 0.8 percentage points lower in right-to-work states than the national average. This statistic is misleading, and a fairer comparison shows that Fox overstated the difference by a factor of four.

Fox Says Average Unemployment Is 0.8 Percentage Points Lower In Right-To-Work States

Fox: Right-To-Work States Have Average "Jobless Rate Of 7.7%, Compared To 8.5% Nationally." From the January 20 edition of Fox News' America Live:

[Fox News, America Live, 1/20/12]

Fox's Statistic Is Simply An Average Of Unemployment Rates In Right-To-Work States

Averaging Nov. 2011 Unemployment Rates In Right-To-Work States Yields A Rate Of 7.7 Percent. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12/20/11; National Right To Work, 1/23/11, calculation by Media Matters (RTW-1.xlsx)]

PolitiFact: "Fairest" Way To Compare Rates Is With A "Weighted Average"

PolitiFact: The "Fairest Way To Look At The Data" Is By Looking Jobless Rates "Weighted According To State Population." From PolitiFact:

On the Feb. 24, 2011, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said that the jobs picture is better in "right to work" states -- that is, states in which workers can refuse to pay dues or fees to the union that represents them in bargaining.

"The right-to-work states have much lower level of unemployment than the union states do," O'Reilly said while interviewing Caroline Heldman, a political scientist at Occidental College.

[...]

To test O'Reilly's claim, we turned to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which is the official source for unemployment statistics in the United States. BLS' most recent state-by state data is for December 2010.

We consulted with Gary Burtless, a labor economist with the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution, about the fairest way to look at the data. We agreed that it was best to compare right-to-work and non-right-to-work states through data weighted according to state population. That way, California's unemployment rate would be given more weight than, say, Wyoming's. [PolitiFact.com, 2/24/11]

"Fairest" Calculation Shows Unemployment In Right-To-Work States Is Actually 0.2 Percentage Points Lower Than Nationwide

Weighting Jobless Rate For Right-To-Work States By Population Shows Their Rate In Nov. 2011 Was 8.5 Percent. This fairer calculation shows that the jobless rate in right-to-work states was 0.2 percentage points below the national average of 8.7 percent in November. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12/20/11, 1/20/11; Census Bureau, accessed 1/23/12 (.xls); National Right To Work, 1/23/11, calculation by Media Matters (RTW-1.xlsx)]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Labor Unions
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Show/Publication
America Live
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