Thursday, 22 August 2013

Odds and Ends

Will we ever have Guernsey's accurate median wages?
"Wages rise steadily" says the headline, and the details show that it is average wages in use again: "The figures from the States of Jersey show that the average earnings of full-time employees were £660 a week at the time of the survey this year, which compared June 2013 to June 2012."
As Mark Forskitt was correct to point out in a Tweet: "Would be far more indicative and meaningful to publish #median earnings. Average too easily skewed by outliers at high end."
Wage distributions are invariably skewed, not normal (bell shaped) curves. That means that higher earners disproportionably affect the average wage. The correct method in statistics for a skewed distribution, and one that is best practice, is to use the median.
Jersey, because of its peculiar sampling, can only provide an estimate of median wages, not an accurate figure. Guernsey, however manages that. How do they do it? They simply take the earnings from the social security returns, and an accurate median is obtainable.
When I pointed this out on Twitter, Malcolm Ferey of Citizen's Advice Bureau said that "Tony, Soc Sec data does not accurately reflect all earnings, only wages within the earnings limit". That's correct, but as Guernsey Statistics Unit realised - and as I found out when I asked them - that doesn't matter.
I was told for years that Jersey couldn't supply the median wage, so when Guernsey did, I was intrigued and asked them how they did it.
It is because of the difference between median and mean. Let's take an example - a wage sample of thousands per year
And let's assume an earnings limit (above which extra income is not declared) of 40k.
The median is the mid-point, and the data we have - corrected for the earnings limit - is:
The median - the middle point is 18k. It doesn't matter if we can't tell how high the wages are above the limit. All that matters is if we line up the wages from smallest to largest, that the median - the middle point - is below 40k. That is what Guernsey realised some time ago, having some clever statisticians, but Jersey seems unable to recognise.
Bus Strike Off
The bus strike has been averted at the 11th hour. Congratulations to those negotiating, because that will have been difficult. Let us hope that calling off the strike on the basis of changes in working conditions actually results in something positive, and the way forward for negotiations is genuine, and not just a means of averting a strike.
Isn't it a shame that all the politicians seem to have been standing on the sidelines, mostly berating the bus drivers, and seemingly deciding that Kevin's policy of non-intervention was the right one.
But what really concerned me was this:
"The Jersey bus contractor Libertybus has announced it will bring in extra drivers to provide services during a forthcoming strike."
This was about importing drivers from the UK, with no knowledge of Jersey roads, and little driving experience of Jersey's perculiarly narrow lanes. It was to ensure a "skeleton service", but given those drawbacks, the risk of accidents would have been high. "Skeleton service" could have been very appropriate for a description of this plan!
Guernsey Gache could be made off island
I see from a report that the traditional fruit loaf of Guernsey Gache could be made off island due to the closure of Guernsey's biggest bakery, Warry's. Apparently, the remaining bakers cannot make enough for the considerable demand. Would they still be able to call it Guernsey Gache? Or would that be a bit of a cheat? Mind you, we have our own equivalent - the Jersey Pottery shop, which sells Jersey pottery - except Jersey Pottery is no longer made within the Island.
Boutique killed the Video Store
As CTV reports:"Voisins Department Store has announced a Jo Malone London Boutique is to open this October.  Jo Malone was founded in 1994 and specialises in scented products for the home. Its name has become internationally synonymous with British style."
I'd be interested in knowing who is going to frequent that store. HMV in Jersey was one of the outlets of the company that was profitable and had lots of people going in and out. A luxury outlet will have to do well to provide a good return for that space.
There are some interesting comments on Mumsnet:
"I love JM bath, body stuff and candles, but I have the Lime, Basil & Mandarin perfume but never wear it as it's overpowering and a bit cloying imo."
"I can't abide Jo Malone perfumes. I once tried a huge range in Selfridges and didn't find a single one that smelt like the supposed ingredients (I trained as an aromatherapist so have a good nose)."
"I was given a bottle of Jo Malone Lime Blossom Cologne, but it was so vile I gave it away to the Smellies stall at our school fair. I'd sooner daub loo cleaner behind my ears."
"I really like the pomegranate noir fragrance, but some of them can smell a bit like cleaning products rather than perfume."
And finally..
CTV reports that: "Throughout the summer, insect enthusiasts have been heading down to St Ouen to get up close and personal with all manner of creepy crawlies."
They should try the States Chamber in September!

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