Lies, damn lies, and context

First off,though  it has nothing to do with what I started writing except that it talked about Bradford County and the international attention Pennsylvania shale gas development is getting.  BBC looks at the whole Marcellus thing:  How fracking affects a community in Pennsylvania

What really got me going was a far less read piece that also looked at some Marcellus impacts.  A publication called Area Development has this:  Natural Gas Boom Boosting Regional Economies.  Iin passing they have a neat little factoid also about Bradford County.  It says with clear implication that it is all Marcellus related

“In Bradford County, Pa., the 2009 unemployment rate of 10 percent has been halved because of Marcellus Shale gas development. ”

Half?  I was like.. really?  I had to go check.  So here is the unemployment rate in Bradford County back a few years:

So it is true that Bradford county had one month, one, where the local unemployment rate hit 9.9%.   Problem is that the current unemployment rate is 6.4%, so half is quite a stretch.  Skipping that the 9.9% was just one month and that the average unemployment rate in 2009 was 8.3% you really are getting further away from justifying that half claim.  The  kindest I could is that there was one month in April of 2011 that the county’s unemployment rate was 5.1%.  So really cherry picking two specific months I’ve highlighted there with the two recent extremes in the unemployment rate might get you to justifying that half comment.  But it raises a bigger question then does it not?  Bradford County, the heart of Marcellus, has seen its unemployment rate go up a lot this year?  Further, what is the best baseline to really judge the impact on the local labor force up there?  One month in 2009, or all of 2009, or some earlier year. The average unemployment rate for 2008 was 5.3%.   So yes, the current unemployment rate in Bradford county is up from what was the end of the recession technically. How about 2007? 4.7%.   So now go back and think about that half claim.  Methinks it all may be a bit more complicated than that.

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