Numbers Schmumbers

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Dean Baker:

A New York Times piece on the troubles facing a steel factory in southern Italy asserted that closing the troubled factory would cost Italy 1.4 percent of its GDP. According to the piece, the plant directly employs 10,500 workers. That is a bit less than 0.05 percent of Italy’s workforce of 23,400,000. The piece is surely right in highlighting the importance of the plant to a very depressed region in Italy, but the claim its closing would reduce Italy’s GDP by 1.4 percent does not seem plausible.

That doesn’t seem very plausible, doesn’t it? And it’s especially implausible since the study quoted by the Times very clearly says that its estimate of the effect of closure is a 3.5 billion euro hit to GDP, or 0.2 percent of total Italian GDP. But hey, it’s just a number. Who cares if it’s right?

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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