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Public sector earnings: Daily Mail, 18 June 2010

The data rows in a table which accompanied an article comparing pay in the public and private sectors were misaligned, so that it appeared to suggest public sector pay was nearly twice that in the private sector. Stephen Penneck wrote to point this out and ask for a correction.

Dear Sir

The table published in Friday's Daily Mail ('How Public Sector Pay Rises Outstripped Public Sector') is clearly misleading and inaccurate. The figures are misaligned across several job categories, giving the overall impression that in 2009, private sector pay on average amounted to £22,417, whereas public sector pay amounted to £44,361. In short, the table implies that public sector workers earned almost twice as much as private sector workers in 2009. This is a gross misrepresentation of the figures contained in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

I note that your online version of the table recognises the error and corrects it. However I suspect few of your readers will have seen this. Inaccuracies like this can only serve to damage faith in official data at a time when ONS is striving hard to protect and promote public confidence in trusted statistics. Can I ask that you publish the corrected table in your next edition?

Your faithfully,

Stephen Penneck

Director General, Office for National Statistics

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