Friday, February 19, 2010

Salmon job loss exagerrations

Job loss exagerrations are now officially an epidemic in the water debate. Yesterday, a group of Democratic Congressional Representatives claimed 23,000 lost jobs from the salmon fishery closure in a letter to Diane Feinstein.

The number comes from a report written by a consulting firm, Southwick Associates, for a sportfishing group. I have been aware of this estimate for some time as it has been referenced by some environmental and fishing groups, but I never took a close, critical look at the actual report until yesterday when members of Congress started using it.

It is not a credible number, and it appears to be driven by taking credit for an implausibly large share of retail sales in California's very large consumer seafood market. I will go through the data more carefully in the coming days, but my very preliminary back of the envelope calculations suggest this number could be as much as 10 times too high. That would be just as much of an exagerration (arguably more) than the original UC-Davis farm water job loss estimates that I have criticized so much since they began being referenced by Valley Congressional Reps.

At this point, I am not ready to make an estimate of my own, but I do recommend members of Congress, environmentalists and others stop citing 23,000 lost jobs from the salmon closure.

I have seen references (although no report) to a Department of Fish and Game estimate of about 2,400 lost jobs that is more plausible in my view. If anyone has a copy of the DFG estimates, please send it to me.

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