19/9/16: US Median Income Statistics: Losing One’s Head in Cheerful Releases

In our Business Statistics MBAG 8541A course, we have been discussing one of the key aspects of descriptive statistics reporting encountered in media, business and official releases: the role that multiple statistics reported on the same subject can have in driving false or misleading interpretation of the underlying environment.

While publishing various metrics for similar / adjoining data is generally fine (in fact, it is a better practice for statistical releases), it is down to the media and analysts to choose which numbers are better suited to describe specific phenomena.

In a recent case, reporting of a range of metrics for U.S. median incomes for 2015 has produced quite a confusion.

Here are some links that explain:

So, as noted on many occasions in our class: if you torture data long enough, it will confess… but as with all forced confessions, the answer you get will bear no robust connection to reality…