Congress, media still citing controversial business-funded study against labor bill [UPDATED]
Yesterday, Facing South reported on a widely-quoted study which claims that the Employee Free Choice Act would cause 600,000 workers to lose their jobs. The study by Anne Layne-Farrar -- who is routinely identified as being with the "non-partisan" research group LECG -- was in fact funded by leading business groups who have poured tens of millions of dollars into fighting the labor bill.
Facing South was also the first to report that the study is based on a surprisingly shaky set of data: the decades-old experience of just three Canadian provinces where unemployment was likely caused by lots of other factors.
Criticism of the report is gaining steam -- but that hasn't stopped some in the media and Congress from continuing to hawk the study's dubious claims that the act would destroy the economy.
Some of the follow-up:
* After I cross-posted my piece at the Oxdown Gazette, Jane Hamsher drew on it for excellent pieces at Firedoglake and Huffington Post. As Hamsher points out, Citigroup drew on the dubious Layne-Farrar study in its decision to downgrade Wal-Mart stock, claiming passage of the EFCA would be "a significant drag on earnings."
* Over at TPM Cafe, economist Dean Baker followed up with his own piece on the weaknesses in Layne-Farrar's study, noting that a growing body of research proves that increasing unionization rates doesn't increase unemployment:
In 2006, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did an exhaustive analysis of the research on this topic and concluded that there was no link between unionization rates and unemployment. It is easy to find examples of countries with very high unionization rates and low levels of unemployment. For example Norway and Denmark have unionization rates near 80 percent. Before the current But Layne-Farrar says in her own study that there isn't enough data from most Canadian provinces to draw any such conclusions. On page 20 she admits that in only three Canadian provinces is there enough information for any "reasonable estimation of direct effects." And even drawing any conclusions from those three provinces is debatable.
But others agree with Layne-Farrar, Rep. McKeon claims -- people like John Mortimer of the Canadian LabourWatch Association, who thinks the EFCA is a horrible idea. I would suspect so: As a list of LabourWatch clients shows, John Mortimer and LabourWatch are industry-hired guns -- just like Anne Layne-Farrar and LECG, who are paid by business to oppose labor-friendly legislation.
Which raises an interesting point: Why do publications like The Economist point to Layne-Farrar's study (thankfully also acknowledging her backers) as if it's on par with that of more objective scholarship which doesn't support the business lobby's conclusions?