Monday, March 2, 2009

Sacramento Bee owes Delta advocates a front page story

The Sacramento Bee puts the Crisis in Mendota on it's frontpage, but does not even cover the Restore the Delta event this weekend. That's a pretty sad record for a paper that is trying to be the neutral forum of the Delta issue.

Now, about the Mendota story. I wish I had time to write about it's numerous problems.

I will just mention one statistical issue. This is one of many news stories to discuss how unemployment in Mendota is approaching 40%. The source of this number is, click on the Fresno spreadsheet and be sure to read the footnote about how this number is calculated and should be used with caution at the bottom. (The reporter probably got the number from water exporters that have been peddling this shocking statistic to the media).

Unfortunately, it's a phony number. It is based on the unemployment rate in the 2000 Census for the town, then scaled to match the current county data. The only current employment data is at the county level. The only meaningful city level data is from the Census, last completed in 2000. So the shock to me in the current Mendota unemployment figure is how high unemployment must have been in 2000 to yield a current estimate in the mid-30's.

What would those reporters have found if they went to Mendota during 2000, a year of high water supply and strong agricultural employment in the area? Mendota's unemployment rate in 2000 was 31.8%!!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for pointing out how this figure was calculated. I was searching for just this information when I found your post. I searched the EDD pages for the 2000 census and the May 2009 "estimates" and ran my own calculations. No wonder the estimates are so bad. The county data are causing the small town data to swing wildly. There's just no telling what the real numbers are. As of 2000, Mendota's employment was 0.75% of the county employment, while the unemployment was 2.7%. It doesn't take much change in the county employment/unemployment ratio to cause a very large "change" in Mendota's calculated unemployment rate. It's bogus.