Stagnating Reporting at the Idaho Statesman

Over a month ago, in a post entitled The Right to Work for Low Wages, I discussed the impact the 1986 “right to work” legislation had on Idaho workers. Rather than spread myths about how RTW legislation would bring high paying jobs to Idaho, I cited evidence from Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), showing the opposite:

[O]ur findings — that “right-to-work” laws are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions — are based on the most rigorous statistical analysis currently possible. These findings should discourage right-to-work policy initiatives. The fact is, while RTW legislation misleadingly sounds like a positive change in this weak economy, in reality the opportunity it gives workers is only that to work for lower wages and fewer benefits. For legislators dedicated to making policy on the basis of economic fact rather than ideological passion, our findings indicate that, contrary to the rhetoric of RTW proponents, the data show that workers in “right-to-work” states have lower compensation — both union and nonunion workers alike.

Today’s Idaho Statesman features a cover story in their Business Insider section entitled:   Idaho’s Wages Have Stagnated for Three Decades.  Here’s Why

The author of the story, Bill Roberts drags out the usual suspects to answer the “here’s why”. Jobs in the “extraction” industries, mining, forestry have disappeared. High paying tech jobs have left to be replaced by low paying service jobs. Idahoans refuse to go to college.

What factor is conspicuous by it’s absence? There is no mention of the passage of right to work legislation. Over at Fort Boise, Tom von Alten makes an addition to the Statesman graph to make the point.

HowIdahoFellBehind

When a flood of comments pointed out that the story made no mention of RTW legislation, here is what Roberts said:

Roberts

That’s right- “Regarding comments on right to work ‘s affect on wages. We talked to people about it and the sense was that it may have had some effect, but it was hard to measure how much”. I wonder who those “people” were? There were lots of direct quotes in the article, but none about the impact of RTW. And, of course, the article doesn’t attempt to “measure how much” effect any of the other “causes” had on wage stagnation.

This is just lazy journalism on Robert’s part. He lives in the Republican echo chamber and is unwilling or unable to do any real research. If I were an Editor at the Statesman, I would demand that Roberts (and Rocky Barker) follow Dan Popkey around for a month or two so they might be able to figure out what it means to be a reporter.

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