If You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance, Baffle Them With…Statistics
Quartz, an online media outlet for international business professionals, styles itself as a provider of, “bracingly creative and intelligent journalism that’s built for users first.” And it claims, “We help our audience see around corners, navigate disruption in their industries, build fulfilling careers, broaden their views of the world, and enjoy lives rich with culture.”
It recently put up a hybrid text/graphic post titled, “Three Charts Showing How US Immigrants Are Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic.” In that post, Quartz bends over backwards to suggest that immigrants are somehow suffering more than Americans as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But here’s the problem: The charts aren’t particularly illustrative. They simply illustrate that theCOVID-19 outbreak is having a significant effect on the economy of the United States.
As a result, the text in between the charts is significantly more interesting than the charts themselves. Although, if you were expecting insightful analysis you would be sorely disappointed. There’s nothing bracing, creative or intelligent about Quartz’s approach. In fact, the textual commentary on the charts just seems to re-hash the painfully obvious: due to the global pandemic, times are tough for everyone.
Here are some examples:
- “Twenty-four percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners working in the US are not citizens of the country. So are 8% of physicians. The former have been told to stay home to limit the spread of coronavirus. The latter are forced to treat patients during a shortage of the protective supplies they rely on.”
Yes, and the exact same thing is true of the 76 percent of domestic assistants and the 92 percent of doctors who are U.S. citizens. How is the situation of immigrants materially different than that of Americans? Quartz never makes that clear.
- “Non-citizen immigrants in the US make up 6.8% of the workforce. They work in jobs that were deemed essential fighting the virus, and in industries that have seen the large layoffs and slowdowns in recent weeks.”
Once again, that’s a commentary that applies to the total workforce of the United States. And, yet again, there’s a failure to indicate why immigrants find themselves in any tougher position than anyone else.
- “Accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, administrative and waste services, and retail trade are the industries that experienced the biggest layoffs in March, according to the latest employment data.”
It may be true that some of these industries have a higher proportion of immigrant laborers. However, the vast majority of workers in all of these fields are still Americans. As a result, American workers in these fields are suffering the same challenges as immigrant workers.
It’s only at the end of the article that Quartz manages to raise the ghost of a genuine problem for immigrants: Some immigrants earn low incomes. And some immigrants don’t have health insurance.
However, even that is not particularly insightful. Any compassionate person can see how it might be tough to be a stranger in a strange land, during a pandemic, faced with a cash flow shortage and no insurance. Nevertheless, Quartz once again fails to show, anecdotally or through hard evidence, how migrants are any worse off than anyone else in America who’s either out of a job, or working in what TV celebrity Mike Rowe would call a “dirty job,” during theCOVID-19 crisis.
Unfortunately, Quartz is following an all-too-common trend in immigration reporting. Mainstream media outlets have been showing off all sorts of raw numbers and then claiming that the data they reference supports their open-borders agenda. But when those facts and figures are analyzed in context, they simply don’t hold up. And data without context can be used as a pretext for virtually any argument.