Accurate Numbers Paint Different Picture

Chuck Sheketoff

Recently, Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner announced the minimum wage that will be in effect in 2005 under the voter-enacted 2002 initiative. One news story painted a picture of the minimum wage rising steeply. Regrettably, they only plotted the years the minimum wage increased, not the intervening years. When you include the intervening years you get a very different picture. And when you adjust the minimum wage for inflation you see that its barely keeping pace and is still below its peaks.


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    Chuck, is the minimum wage indexed to the regular inflation rate, or to some specially calculated rate? If it's the regular inflation rate, then, it'll always and forever be $7.00/hr in 2004 dollars, right?

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    It is indexed to what is the most commonly used inflation measure, the US Consumer Price Index for all uban consumers (CPI-U). For a description of the CPI-U and why that was the right choice for an inflation adjuster, see the OCPP report Urban Inflation for the Minimum Wage: The Correct Measure for Oregon’s Farm Workers.

    Absent legislative action by the Legislative Assembly or the voters by initiative, the minimum wage is frozen at $7.05 in 2004 dollars.

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    Yeah -- the media are generally extremely lazy when it comes to using inflation-adjusted numbers (or appropriate numbers in context). It drives me nuts.

    They also use problematic graphics. For example, for the Nine States of Oregon piece, that was meant to show that we've got a lot of diversity, the Oregonian colored Oregon counties either black (Kulongoski) v. white (Mannix). Ugh. The truth was a lot of shades of gray... anyway, they should all be forced to read Edward Tufte and then come back to work.

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    Edward Tufte is one of my heros, and I suggested Tufte's course to an editor at the Statesman Journal.

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    One more thing to remember, never assume malfeasance when mere incompetence will do.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    One chance to give a killer the benefit of the doubt is your last chance.


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