This time via John Quiggin:
This afternoon, I looked at the NY Times to see a story about stagnant real wages in Europe, which began with a lengthy voxpop about a couple who had bought a breadmaker because baguettes were too dear, and continued in much the same vein. Deep within the article was the information that eurozone prices have risen by 22.5 per cent since 1999. But despite various claims about the declining purchasing power of wages, there is not a single piece of statistical evidence on wages anywhere in the story. Instead, we got a lengthy and inevitably inconclusive discussion of what constitutes the “middle class.
A quick visit to Eurostat reveals that Eurozone wages have risen about 30 per cent since 2000. German wages have increased by about 20 per cent, so the article’s claims of stagnation appear to be about right for Germany, but not for the EU as a whole. Of course, to do things properly you’d want to consider the impact of food prices on low-income households. But given the focus on the middle class, it seems reasonable to suppose that the price index measures the standard of living for the average middle class household reasonably well.
All I can say is: Remember rule #1 in journalism – never let the facts interfere with your story. Sigh.