It’s just been a week for metric errors. Via Media Matters comes an impressive list of stories in the media about the automobile companies financial problems, where they cite labor costs as a major issue. So far, so good. But in virtually every story about this, you’ll find a statement along the lines of: “union workers make $71 an hour in wages plus benefits”.
In many cases, they even go so far as to specifically compare that figure as wages to other companies. For example, this quote, from a conservative talking head:
“When you’re paying $73.73 an hour to those people with salary and benefits and your competition is paying $48 to its workers, you’re going to get your butt kicked in the marketplace unfortunately.”
Here’s the problem with that. The roughly $70/hour figure is a statement of labor costs, not wages. What’s the difference?