News reporting is notorious for requiring rapid turnaround on emerging stories and budget cuts have certainly increased the pressure. Perhaps as a result, there have lately been a number of glaring mistakes from organizations that pride themselves on their economic and business reporting. For instance, Business Insider recently provided an article regarding “6 Awesome Math Tricks That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier”, including one to calculate your hourly pay if you are a salaried employee:
“You’re a salaried employee and trying to figure out how much that wage earns you an hour, maybe for that part-time job you’re considering taking on. Take your salary, drop the last three zeros and then divide by the number two. So if you earn $40,000, you’re left with $20 an hour. Numbers work best if you’re only working a 40 hour week.”
There are a number of math tricks that allow you to quickly calculate a useful number (like the often mentioned rule of 72 also highlighted in the article), but this one certainly doesn’t make the cut as presented. The problem lies in the final sentence, which should read “Numbers work ONLY if you’re only working a 40 hour week.” This is one good reason to have the editor of your financial publication also be a “numbers person” and why it’s always a good idea to double check your work before it goes out the door.