Smoke and MirrorsMonday, July 28th, 2003
The health department’s stats on jobs and the smoking ban don’t add up.
I couldn’t help thinking of Disraeli’s comment when I saw the report issued by the city’s Department of Health last week claiming that Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial new anti-smoking law is having no effect on employment in Gotham’s restaurant and bar industry, despite howls from owners that their business is slowing down.
There are so many things wrong with this “report,” it’s difficult to know where to begin, but let’s start with the actual number of restaurant jobs in New York from March through June. First, we need to know that the government’s monthly employment data for New York City are not based on an actual count of jobs, which would be too burdensome to do every month, but on a projection made from a limited survey of local employers.
Moreover, the health department report says that the job numbers are “seasonally adjusted,” which adds yet another level of fiddling to what are already massaged data.
To get a somewhat more accurate picture of what may be happening in the business right now, it makes more sense to look at the jobs data that are not seasonally adjusted from this year and compare each month to the same month last year, which reduces the impact of the seasonal hiring. Those figures show that in every month from March to June, the city had fewer restaurant jobs this year than it did in the same month last year. By contrast, in both 2000 and 2001, two years when the city’s restaurant industry grew, in every month from March to June restaurants recorded substantially more employment than for the same month the previous year.
Read the Rest Here.