Polly on, umm, statistics

Polly fires off a broadside at those who are so disgusting as to actually point out that the average public sector worker earns more per hour than the average private sector worker (or even per week).

Except it\’s not true. The facts are accurate, but the context makes it a statistical cheat. Their figures are arrived at by adding up all public sector pay, and all private sector pay, regardless of jobs, and dividing them by the number of employees in each sector. The net result is a meaningless porridge. The private sector now has most of the unskilled work: most cleaners, carers, caterers, security guards, dinner ladies, porters and labourers. They once worked in the public sector, but are now outsourced – and so there are now five times more "elementary" jobs in the private sector. Those remaining as public employees are heavily weighted towards the most highly skilled and super-qualified.

The Office for National Statistics reveals in its labour force survey that 8.6% of private employees are graded as professionals, whereas these form 24.5% of public employees. So if you stupidly average up all jobs, regardless of qualification, of course the public-sector figure is higher. An example: one in five in the public sector is a teacher.

And there\’s a certain amount of truth in her allegation. We\’re not, as she says, taking account of the different composition of the workforce, we\’re not looking at the way in which there is occupational segregation. There are indede private sector teachers but the vast majority of this well paid middle class occupation (I would say profession except they strike) are in the public sector.

However, there\’s a much larger point to be made here about the ONS\’ figures.

They are exactly the same ones which are used to calculate the gender pay gap which Polly is so keen to highlight. And, of course the gender pay gap figures suffer from exactly the same problem, in that all are lumped together and no adjustment is made for either skill level of occupational segregation.

Which leads us to an interesting conclusion. If this comparison is, as Polly says, not true, then neither are the ones about the gender pay gap. Or, if the gender pay gap ones are, then these are too.

I certainly can\’t see that there\’s any other possibility other than those two.

 

14 comments on “Polly on, umm, statistics

  1. “The private sector now has most of the unskilled work: most cleaners, carers, caterers, security guards, dinner ladies, porters and labourers”
    It also contains the super rich footballers so that makes the average public sector wage even better.

  2. Polly is wonderful. A living embodiment of the irrationality, hubris and raw emotion that makes up your average bien pensant. She really should be saved for the nation. Perhaps the National Trust will take her over.

  3. “I certainly can’t see that there’s any other possibility other than those two.”

    Well then google “logical fallacies” and “Laws of Magic” and get to work, because that is how Polly ‘thinks’. Polly is madly analogizing, applying the laws of Similarity and Contagion and posting a few impropter hocs at this very moment.

    And so is Murphy.

  4. The Tax Payers’ Alliance have bothered to rebut her claims. Why I don’t know. They point out that in fact public sector workers are paid more at every level of the work force except the top ten percent.

    So she is comprehensively wrong. But then she is Polly isn’t she?

  5. Those remaining as public employees are heavily weighted towards the most highly skilled and super-qualified.

    Super qualified in diversity sensitivity and highly skilled in losing data no doubt.

  6. Another interesting fact is that 70 per cent of public sector employees are female.

    And effectively, public sector workers don’t pay tax – because the value of their pension promises is approx equal to 25% of salary.

  7. Their figures are arrived at by adding up all public sector pay, and all private sector pay, regardless of jobs, and dividing them by the number of employees in each sector.

    Even in this she’s got it wrong.

    What she’s describing is the mean salary. The mean salary is higher in the private sector because the private sector has more earners at the top of the salary range.

    If we take the median salary, however, the reverse is true; it is members of the public sector who are the more highly paid.

  8. It’s is the EU to your rescue!
    ———————-
    During 2009, cities across Europe will be staging circus-themed events about social rights. The campaign is inspired by “social circus”, an educational movement that uses circus arts as a teaching tool to help troubled youths. For example, the theatre company involved in the event in Lisbon works with school dropouts.
    [ ]
    When it comes to social protection, the EU has some of the strongest laws on the books. But many Europeans don’t know their rights and so don’t exercise them. For example, women continue to earn 15% less than men and are less likely to have top jobs. The EU is striving to close this gender gap, however, people must be made aware of their rights first.

    http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/eu-kicks-off-circus-campaign.html
    ———-

  9. “And effectively, public sector workers don’t pay tax – because the value of their pension promises is approx equal to 25% of salary.”

    But have no pension from their employer.

    What a weird thing to say. You might as well say I don’t spend any money on alcohol because my company pays more in pension contributions.

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