The 70,000 figure being bandied about for the number of construction workers suffering through layoffs as a result of the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration could be around 50,000 above the mark. An analysis of the oft-repeated statistic shows the figure actually may be around 20,000, CNN
George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller, the author of a study others used to divine the 70,000 figure, said the number includes everything from actual laid-off construction workers to drugstore clerks and restaurant waitresses, who might see "a tiny bit less revenue flow."
The actual number of laid-off construction workers is probably one-third of the 70,000 figure, he told CNN.
Originally, the FAA got it right. The Associated General Contractors of American, using the professor’s study, estimated for the FAA that the construction halt would put "24,000 construction workers out of work" and affect as many as another 35,000 jobs “from the lunch wagon near the job site to the truck dealership across town," CNN reported.
However, as news releases, advisories, and statements began to pile up, nuance was lost to the point where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asserted at a news conference that “Seventy thousand construction workers are out of work today — 70,000! — and here we are right smack dab in the middle of the construction season in America," CNN reported.
After that, it was off to the races, with politicians across the spectrum using the number, along with press spokesmen and unions. The number even got bigger when White House press secretary Jay Carney threw in the 4,000 FAA employees furloughed and asserted the dispute is "keeping 74,000 people from working," CNN reported.
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