Productivity of AP headline writer falls in first quarter

Here are some fun reporter-math headlines from this morning, although this is more an example of a headline writer not understanding statistics than the reporter. Let’s just call them dueling headlines:

  • AP: Productivity falls in 1st quarter
  • Reuters: Q1 non-farm productivity rose 1.0 pct

  • So there you have it: Productivity either fell or rose during the first quarter.

    Explanation: Obviously, whoever wrote the headline for the AP story doesn’t understand the difference in a slow-down in the rate of growth vs. a fall. Also, a downward revision of earlier estimates — that still is an increase in the rate of growth — is not a fall.