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Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Journal's Fuzzy Numbers

Posted By on Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial against Measures 66 and 67 that’s been widely circulated via e-mail and quoted approvingly on conservative websites such as The Oregon Catalyst.  But Oregonian blogger Jeff Mapes caught the Journal with its factual pants down.

The editorial claims that “the Democratic controlled state legislature doled out a $259 million pay raise to the government work force, even as the state was facing a near $1 billion deficit.” In reality state workers agreed to a pay freeze, 10 to 14 days of unpaid furlough and a deferral of step increases. All in all, “It amounts to a slight pay cut over the 2009-‘11 budget cycle,” Mapes writes.

The editorial also says, “In the last three years, the state has added 25,000 new public employees while losing 40,000 private sector jobs.” Both numbers are wrong: There are about 51,000 state workers now, compared with 48,000 three years ago – an increase of 3,000, which is a far cry from 25,000.

In fact, Mapes points out, total employment for ALL levels of government in Oregon rose by only about 10,000 in that three-year period.

The Journal also got the number of private-sector jobs lost wrong – it’s 116,000, not 40,000.

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