NYT’s Bad Stats Push for European Layoffs

Blogging (Beat the Press, 5/26/09) about how the “New York Times Cooks the Books on Europe’s Auto Industry,” economist Dean Baker catches the paper “touting the layoffs in the U.S. auto industry as a virtue”–since “it notes that auto industry employment in Europe is remaining steady at around 2.3 million, while it is falling to close to 700,000 in the U.S.“:

The article and accompanying chart imply that Europe is delaying an inevitable adjustment. The case is far from clear, in spite of the NYT‘s best effort to make the case. The chart shows that Europe produces about 18 million cars a year, while North America produces around 12 million. Those noting the asterisk will see that one-third of the cars in North America are produced in Canada or Mexico, meaning that only about 8 million cars are produced in the U.S. This adjustment makes the gap in employment look less extreme.

Furthermore, the U.S. imports a large portion of the parts for the cars that are produced here. Much of the employment in the auto sector is in parts production. Without knowing the balance of trade in car parts, there is no easy way to know how Europe’s auto employment relative to its output compares to the U.S.

But such pesky realism has never gotten in the way of the neocon idealism U.S. media routinely try to push upon sometimes recalcitrant Europe; see FAIR’s magazine Extra!: “Europe Says No–to Punditsâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ Advice: ‘Painful Reforms’ Find Few Takers” by Seth Ackerman (9â┚¬“10/05)