Rob Schofield deconstructs GOP's fictional narrative on NC median income

The picture is not nearly as pretty as it's been painted:

It’s understandable (and perhaps even a little poignant) that some on the right have been trying so hard of late to put a positive spin on the state of the North Carolina economy. If there’s even the tiniest snippet of encouraging economic news out there these days – anywhere – you can rest assured that conservative politicians and “think tankers” will seize upon it, gather round it and hold it aloft like ancient cavepeople celebrating the discovery of a shiny ingot.

I love that imagery. The only thing missing is the theme music from 2001: A Space Odyssey where the ape discovers the thigh bone can be used as a weapon. Which is exactly what the John Lockers and Civitassers try to use these "discoveries" for; to destroy the links between government and the people who are (or should be) helped by it. And if ignoring guidance designed to keep you from misrepresenting statistics can help in that crusade, they are game:

A classic example of this brand of willfully blind and ideologically and politically-driven spin has been on display in recent days on the subject of an important indicator of middle class wellbeing: median income. Last week, a number of well-known conservative voices latched onto some new Census data in order to make the claim that North Carolina was supposedly leaving the rest of the country in its dust when it came to income growth.

The only problem with these posts and the retelling of them by Berger (on Facebook) and Hood (on the TV show NC SPIN) is that they’re wrong. Indeed, they’re way, way, off. The truth of the matter is that the newest Census data paint a picture that is almost the diametric opposite of Gray’s, Hood’s Balfour’s and Berger’s claims.

Rather than using the American Community Survey – which is based on vastly larger amounts of data and provides a much more accurate assessment, the conservatives seized on numbers from the Current Population Survey, which is based on much less robust data and is not designed for the kinds of comparisons that Gray, Hood and company used them. Indeed, the Census Bureau website includes a specific directive not to use the data for the purpose for which the conservatives attempted to use them – especially considering the Census’ redesigned income questions that began in 2013.

And it's quite possible that very warning is what put the Puppets onto the scent of some potentially juicy (yet inaccurate) statistics. Wouldn't put it past them.

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