24 August 2011

Meaningless statistics

The economic gloom deepens. The Independent reports:
Anxiety will be increased by a survey published today showing that fewer than half of Britain's 11 million low to middle-income earners have any money left over at the end of the month – another blow to hopes that the economy will pick up after the 0.2 per cent growth seen between April and June.
Yes, it's another pointless survey:

Research by Ipsos Mori for the Resolution Foundation think tank found that 48 per cent of people in low to middle-income households – defined as having a gross income of between £12,000 and £48,000 a year – have any cash left over at the end of each month. This is compared with 66 per cent among higher-income households.

Fewer than three in 10 (27 per cent) of low to middle-earners make any monthly savings, compared with 47 per cent of those on higher incomes.

Now you might wonder about the 52% of low to middle income households who do - even in today's harsh climate - have cash to spare at the end of the month. And equally about the 34% of households earning over £48,000 who don't.

But the poll is essentially meaningless without some historical context. It does not tell us if (or by how much) the situation has deteriorated by comparison with more beneficial times. So there is little point in becoming anxious about it.

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