Thanks to Ben I’m more aware than I…

Thanks to Ben, I’m more aware than I used to be of dodgy statistics in news articles. Yesterday’s WRAL story about the local job market struck me as rather egregious:

While 15 percent of companies say they plan to add workers, another 13 percent anticipate cutting staff, Manpower reported. That net 2 percent of additional hiring makes Raleigh-Cary one of the weakest job markets in the new survey, Manpower said.

We’re told how many employers are planning to add workers and how many are planning to cut workers, but without knowing how many are being added and cut, it’s impossible to know whether there’s a net gain or a net loss. What if one of the 15 percent is adding 10,000 jobs? What the reporter means by a “net 2 percent of additional hiring” is anyone’s guess.

It may be that the actual Manpower study says something meaningful, and maybe it is bad news for the local job market. But I think WRAL would have been better off simply reporting Manpower’s conclusions, rather than presenting the misleading illusion of math.