J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

I had written a "not for publication" email to the Business editor of the AV Press pointing out that the Demographic Update box they run daily really conveys nothing useful in the form presented. 

No reaction was forthcoming so I took the opportunity to make the same point with a bit of humor, and they actually published it.

In truth I suspect the figures quoted for purchases in their little statistics box, which I presume are government-issue, actually come out of someone's hat, but the results served my purpose anyway.


To:  AV Press

Date: 01/12/2011

Re:  Statistics

Newspapers too often seem to be a gathering place for meaningless statistics, one of my favorite local examples being the daily “Demographic Update” box that AV Press publishes in the Business section. Tabulating Valley spending totals on a variety of stuff by ZIP code, it would seem to convey information about area affluence and/or spending habits…except that the postal ZIP codes differ wildly in populations. 

Today I see that Palmdale 93550 is top of the heap on steak purchases, spending $2.02 million yearly, while residents of my own Rosamond 93560 shell out only a measly $830,000.  Well, Rosamond IS sort of a out-back community in the AV, right?   But wait! as the pitchman says.

Applying actual population figures to the statistics in today’s steak-buying box we find something very interesting.  On a per-capita basis, the apparently good-eating Palmdale 93550 residents each spend $30.50 yearly, below even Littlerock 93543 at $31.29.  And the true top dog among all the listed AV ZIP codes?  Drum roll, please: Rosamond 93560, at $55.61 per person. Take that, Palmdale-Lancaster!