Today’s New York Times Corrections section contains this item:
An article in Business Day on Monday about the number of new low-income jobs compared with high-income jobs misstated figures from an analysis of Labor Department payroll data conducted by Economy .com, an economic research firm. Since January, industries ranked in the bottom fifth in terms of median wages have generated 177,000 jobs, not 477,000. Industries in the top fifth generated 135,000 jobs, not zero.
This is a rather stunning error: the Times reported on Monday that so far in 2004, there have been no jobs created in the top 20% best-paying industries, while 477,000 jobs–nearly half of the payroll positions added this year–were in the bottom 20% of industries in median pay. As so often happens, the Times’ correction largely negates the whole point of the original article, which was that “a disproportionate number of new jobs appear to be lower-paying ones.”
It’s hard to believe that the Times makes mistakes on purpose. But it’s also hard to understand why the newspaper’s errors trend invariably in the same direction.