A Question For The Chief Slaughterhouse Opponent

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In Jeni Dodd’s recent piece about the proposed Friesen development, Great Falls Concerned Citizens chief organizer, George Nikolakakos, writes:

“On Mr, [Tom] Jacobson, as an economic authority in the region, his opinion matters and carries weight. What he has pointed out (unrelated to this project) is that the average wage in cascade county is $18 an hour, therefore, 17 an hour is literally and factually lower wage as it brings down that average.”

To which Gregg Smith questioned:

Per Capita Income in Cascade County: $26,578 (Per the Census Bureau: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/cascadecountymontana/PST045216)

$17.00/per hour x 40 hours per week x 50 weeks per year = $34,000.00.

How, then, is this statement true: “What he has pointed out (unrelated to this project) is that the average wage in cascade county is $18 an hour, therefore, 17 an hour is literally and factually lower wage as it brings down that average.”

Huh! How is that statement true?

38 COMMENTS

  1. Per capita income is very different than average hourly wage. Per capita income is the total income in the county divided by the total population. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage in Cascade County for Q2 2017 was $769, which, for a 40 hour work week, comes out to $19.23/hour. (https://beta.bls.gov/maps/cew/MT?period=2017-Q2&industry=10&geo_id=30013&chartData=3&distribution=Quantiles&pos_color=blue&neg_color=orange&showHideChart=show&ownerType=0)

  2. While I’m flattered to be referenced as the “chief slaughterhouse opponent” (something I never imagined I would be saying in my life) I would point out it’s easy to mistake a willingness to put a face and name out to the public with the real hard work happening. There are people behind the scenes, more private people, who I’d say are more determined, hard working, and smarter than I am doing the real ground work.

    In any case, in response to Mr. Smith… It’s important to compare apples to apples and use proper measuring sticks. Per capita numbers are just that. They will include huge swaths of the population in different situations and divide by the total population. So you’re looking at a potential combination (I’d have to take a peek to examine exactly what categories are included/excluded in this specific instance but it is should be essentially everyone of working age) of part time workers, people on social security, disability, homemakers, dropped out of the work force etc. It’s in incredibly rough swag and doesn’t work well for a comparison of wages to wages.

    Measuring by average wage is little better. It lumps in pay from a handful of incredibly high wage earners with the masses to significantly raise the overall number. This is why Todd Hanson is using average wages. 5/100 people can turn 10-12 bucks an hour into a much higher figure.

    Median wages are the sweet spot for most applications. See below for some context on Mr. Jacobson’s definition…

    “About 38 percent of the Great Falls-area households have income of less than $35,000, about 36 percent fall between $35,000 and $75,000 and about 26 percent have income of greater than $75,000.

    Budget tips to balance buying, saving and debt payment

    Jacobson said a household income in the $35,000 range, representing a $17 an hour wage for an individual worker, could be considered low income. Families with a few children at that income level would qualify for many public benefits.

    “There is no reliable definition of middle class,” Jacobson added. “But capping the upper limit at $75,000 would seem appropriate in Great Falls,” Jacobson added.”

    Again, I’d say 17 an hour, in my opinion, is about where we’ve entered the gray area. But we’re not talking 17 an hour jobs. The vast majority of the jobs in the One Montana study were in the 10-14 an hour range which is in line with BLS stats and what you find elsewhere. This industry is a high volume, low profit margin one as the One Montana study pointed out, there’s very little wiggle room in what can be paid. And these are brutal, difficult, physically demanding jobs. That’s why if losing less than 40% of their workers every year they’re gonna get a pat on the back. This is why Professor Blasco pointed out that the facility, like other major facilities, will rely on a migrant labor work-force. If these were such great jobs, that simply wouldn’t be the case. So we can debate the minor details but all you really need to do is take a step back and look at the big picture and you can save yourself a lot of time. I’ve included a sampling of links below. The first is an overview of the current work-force shortage that is projected to get much worse. The one after focuses on the slaughterhouse in Brooks, Alberta Friesen’s stomping ground. The rest are relevant as well.

    http://helenair.com/business/economic-forecast-montana-faces-workforce-crisis/article_86ebb1ea-873d-551d-bcb1-70dd48766605.html

    https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2012/10/08/alberta_meat_packing_plant_has_troubled_history.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/05/24/for-many-somali-refugees-this-industry-offers-hope-then-takes-it-away/?utm_term=.696d40cf7c5a

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/08/exploitation-and-abuse-at-the-chicken-plant

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-29/america-s-worst-graveyard-shift-is-grinding-up-workers

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/11/489468205/working-the-chain-slaughterhouse-workers-face-lifelong-injuries

  3. First problem: Mr Wilkison is using Cascade County rather than Great Falls Metro Area statistics. Metro GF would be more accurate.

    Second problem: He also is referencing AVERAGE wages rather than MEDIAN wages. Median is the middle ground, half of all wages are above, half of all below and is the more accurate way to look the wage statistics for our area. A simple explanation of how it works for wages is here: https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2006/09/if_median_is_be

    That’s why I took my statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics here:
    https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24500.htm#00-0000

    Further, I’d like to also point out that Jacobson says the $35,000 is HOUSEHOLD INCOME, not PER CAPITA INCOME in this article:
    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/money/2016/07/07/term-middle-income-defined-cascade-county/86802300/

    “Jacobson said a household income in the $35,000 range, representing a $17 hourly wage for an individual worker, could be considered low income. Families with a few children at that income level would qualify for many public benefits.”

    According to https://statisticalatlas.com/metro-area/Montana/Great-Falls/Employment-Status, approximately 53.7% of all Great Falls households consist of a married couple with both spouses working—in other words TWO EARNER HOUSEHOLDS.

    So using $35,000 household income doesn’t necessarily compute to individual income.

    • The mean hourly wage for the GF Metro area is $19.15/hr (https://www.bls.gov/regions/mountain-plains/news-release/occupationalemploymentandwages_greatfalls.htm). It shouldn’t be surprising that it’s virtually the same as that of Cascade County, since the majority of jobs in the county are in GF. I’m not sure why you consider that a “problem.” I also am not sure why you think it’s a problem that I referenced average and not median wages. I was simply citing my statics using the same terms as Mr Smith, who referenced “PER CAPITA INCOME IN CASCADE COUNTY” and “AVERAGE WAGE IN CASCADE COUNTY.” Sure, there’s a discussion to be had about merits of differing statistics, but Mr. Smith’s question to Mr. Nikolakakos is entirely unhelpful in that regard.

      • According to the Census Bureau, the MEDIAN (not mean) HOUSEHOLD wage in Cascade County is $45,469.00. (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/cascadecountymontana/PST045216)

        If a couple newlyweds each worked at the plant under the assumed wage of $17.00/per hour, their household wage would be $34.00 x 40 hours per week x 50 weeks per year, or $68,000.00 per year. Much higher than the community’s median wage.

        I don’t know if I am for the plant, or against it. But all of this book-length word salad about statistics is simply meant to overwhelm. We might as well argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

        For all of the reasons to be for or against the food plant, thousands of new jobs paying roughly twice the minimum wage isn’t a bad thing for our community. I would rather see Microsoft open its new coding center here with a $150k starting salary. So far, that isn’t happening.

        • I saw this chart ( https://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LAUMT302450000000005_2007_2017_all_period_M11_data_employment.gif) on the BLS site detailing employment levels in GF. It appears we are down nearly 2,500 workers from 2009. With all the talk about our lack of infrastructure to support new packing plant workers, it appears the infrastructure was already here as of 2009.

          Also, there are 52 weeks in a year so your calculations are 4% low. I would think vacation pay is offered. It also bears noting that when using salary stats, they do not reflect benefits vs no benefits jobs. Also, the over-representation of federal and medical employees in GF many of which pay just over the $17/hr being talked about, distorts the statistical realities faced by unskilled job seekers in GF.

          Another issue is that GF is old outside of Malmstrom (ref hospital growth vs school closings) and I would guess the new packing plant workers are young on average, therefore they would restore some balance to our retirement trending community.

        • Gregg, again, you’re not comparing apples to apples. You just created an income for a hypothetical household then compared it to that number for the whole county which includes a wide array of household situations. Many households have only one worker. Not every household even has one. That brings the median number down substantially.

          Where did you get the “assumed wage of 17 an hour?” Friesen is claiming an average wage in the 16-17 range last I heard. The way you ran your calculation is exactly what they’re hoping for. The reason they’re using averages is because they can factor in CEO and much higher wages to bring the hourly average up. Those numbers also include people with years of experience, not starting newlyweds. BLS has a median meatpacker wage at less than 13 an hour which is about in-line with what the One Montana feasibility study. Again, that’s the median wage, not starting. So those newlyweds are going to be pulling in way closer to 10 an hour than 17.

          Two people in a household working at McDonalds basically do the same. As I’ve stated, we’re talking about jobs that are perhaps marginally better than fast food. Maybe. With incredibly tough working conditions.

          It doesn’t matter from what angle you look at this, it all comes up the same. These are overwhelmingly low/lower paying jobs and we couldn’t find 250 people to fill them, much less 3,000. The vast, vast, vast majority of this workforce does not live in Cascade county right now, or even in the the state of Montana. This is why the author of the One Montana study said it wouldn’t have much of an impact on our local employment rates. It’s not a local employment force. The people coming will be lower income and need services. Lots of them.

    • We have been beating on the median income drum for months, welcome to the club Jeni. It is Mr. Hanson who has been using average wages to make them look better. As such, it is appropriate to answer him back in the term he us using. Once again, apples to apples. I will never get him to talk in terms of median so I have to answer him back in average. I mention both generally. When I did the math myself quite awhile ago, I came to an average wage of for the area of a little more 18 an hour, thus Mr. Jacobsons analysis and definition of lower wage rang (and still rings) true. If you look at the context he using you can draw some solid conclusions. Someone else dug up the actual figure of 19 an hour or so which, I couldn’t find. It didn’t surprise me as I was conservative in my calculations. So all the figures and statistics we’ve now dug into deeper fall further towards my side of the argument. That’s your case?

  4. Well, I’ll concede your point GF Metro vs Cascade County. But those are still AVERAGE WAGES and the reason not to use average is this:

    “Like standard deviation, mean is very sensitive to the most abnormal of values, particularly very high values. Why would one use a measure for what people “typically” earn, that is so strongly affected by atypical salaries?”
    See this for more explanation: https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2006/09/if_median_is_be

    In everyday use, mean and average are the same thing. Take all the values, add them togehter and divide by the number of values. In other words, a few high paying jobs can skew the average or mean, making it look like most people in the area get paid more than they do, so the better way to look at wages is to look for the median wage, which is the middle value of all the values.

    I personally know a quite a few people working in GF for $8-$9 an hour that might like the chance at a $12-$14 an hour job.

    • It’s true that mean and median are very different things and shouldn’t be conflated. In this case, the data for mean/median wages, as well virtually every other economic indicator are readily available … which is why the entire thrust of this post (that George was being less than truthful?) is so discouraging. There’s plenty of room for meaningful discussions about what these data mean, without inflammatory statements like “Huh! How is that statement true?” And the readily available data also mean that annecdotal accounts aren’t particularly helpful either. I personally know people who are leaving and have left Great Falls due to its lack of professional, high-paying jobs in tech and creative fields.

      • Mr Wilkinson, I’m all for meaningful discussion. Although that wasn’t my what you call “inflammantory” statement, I don’t exactly think it was inflammatory either. “Huh how is that true?” is a valid question to quite a bit of what I see posted on the Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens and associated web pages. I also think folks should keep in mind that Hermiller would be a neighbor of the slaughterhouse and Nikokakalos isn’t that far away either–no small a consideration regarding their opposition.

        If you want meaningful discussion, then perhaps you should also tell that to the slaughterhouse opposition, and here’s why. I urge you to take a closer look at how Nikokakalos and Hermiller attack people who dare disagree with them on their websites, like Maggie Nutter for example. Then you tell me who are the true inflammatory ones. The way they and some of their constituents have responded to her and others who disagree with them on their site is akin to mobbing, bullying behavior, IMHO.

        • Jeni, you seem to do plenty of “attacking” yourself but never seem to see it as such. You’re also prone to the same over-dramatization you accuse others of. We didn’t personally attack Ms.Nutter, we attacked her heartless and absurd arguments. She has made herself one of the public proponents of the plant, as have I, so will take some arrows as have I.

          I think your attempt to discredit Stacy because she lives near the facility shows a total lack of empathy and understanding. Of course people closest to the facility and most negatively impacted are more likely to get involved. You don’t seem to be concerned, however, with the motivations of people who stand to make a few bucks as their motivating factor. Stacy (and many others) are worried about her water, fields spraying “cleaned” waste all around her kids, and her home value. Apparently, that makes her opinion less valid than someone who owns a business that stands to gain.

          So when Ms Nutter, who (thinks) she stands to financially gain from a project hundreds of miles away from her tells people worried about their livelihoods off the wall things like perhaps there will be in increase of cheese factory tourism… If you cannot see why that would elicit a strong response… well, I think it speaks to your lack of empathy more than anything else.

          • Nope, not trying to discredit Ms Hermiiler, just stating a fact…it is in her backyard, so to speak, so of course she’s likely not going want a food factory near what she thought would be a bucolic subdivision. But it’s also likely she wouldn’t want any sort of commercial nearby.

    • Jeni, it is Hanson/Friesen using mean wages and doing exactly what you are stating, using it to inflate the overall number to the public. What Dan is pointing out, I believe, is that our mean is lower than their mean which is at least apples to apples.

      Even the 12-13 isn’t a starting wage. BLS has those wages as median which, as you pointed out, is a middle range. This will include experienced and supervisory meat packers making more as well as people just starting our makes less.

      As you saw on the One Montana study, many jobs fall in the 10 dollar range which is a more realistic starting wage your friends making 8-9 would be looking at. And before you assume your friends will want such jobs I’d say have them take a look at what it all entails.

      Also, if you know people in those wage ranges and they aren’t in those jobs to specifically gain field-specific experience toward a longer-term goal I would suggest they take a hard look at making some different choices or getting some jobs counseling as there are many employers in town, including people who I know, who can’t find decent people at substantially higher wages.

      • Yep, you are using the same very tactic you claim Friesen is wrong for using–how hypocritical!

        When you claim $17 is the wages for Great Falls, you have used the AVERAGE instead of MEDIAN. That can be clearly proven by Mr Wilkinson link.

        It laughable that you went through an explanation of how Friesen using average wage to inflate their wages is so wrong, yet in the next paragraph or so, you use the average wage to inflate the wage of Great Falls to try to show Friesen wages are so low.

        Median wage is the best way to go and that is found at:
        https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24500.htm#00-0000

        The median, for all occupations in Great Falls, is $14.79 an hour.

        And did I ever say I had “friends” that work for $8-$9 an hr? I do know people making that, but acquaintances aren’t exactly friends.

        Even though that is a small, insignificant thing, it proves to me a willingness on your part to make assumptions–not good for logical arguments.

        • I really have to believe you are simply over your head in understanding the numbers here or the arguments being forwarded which is likely why you threw in with Mr.Greggs per capita income usage. There is simply no explanation for what you’re saying otherwise. Where precisely are you saying I’m using 17 an hour as “the wages” for Great Falls and using average VS median. “I have cited wages in Great Falls in different contexts. The 17 dollar figure I referenced from Mr. Jacobson was based on median household income which is then broken down into thirds. I then posted the context which was basically a way to work out a definition of what lower wage means. Is that what you’re talking about? So if I put wages once, somewhere in one context (which is correct and reasonable in its context) then that’s it, I’m an assumption making hypocrite?

          Again, the primary statistic I have used, and we have used on the page is the BLS median wage. But since Mr. Hanson seems keen on using an average wage, in order to compare apples to apples, we will cite that as well. That’s hypocritical? And your conclusion is to criticize my willingness to make assumptions? Your arguments and logic are becoming more and more erratic and difficult to follow.

          • In over my head, ha, ha, nice try.

            In my piece, I wrote:
            “The US Bureau of Labor & Statistics lists Great Falls median hourly wage as $14.72 (2016). So how do you figure the slaughterhouse wages are so far out of line, considering the full range of wages in four tables of the One Montana report?”

            To which you answered:
            “Tom Jacobson, executive director Rural Dynamics states that $17 could be considered lower income in Cascade County. We would literally be importing low income jobs.”

            So you’re the one who pulled $17 out of your hat. Yes, you used the $17 an hour to justify your assertion that Friesen wages would be so much lower than what we’re used to in GF.

            And that figure, $17 is average, not median. So yes you are hypocritical because you did the same thing you blasted Friesen for doing in making wage claims. Do you really not see that?

            So no, no matter how you try to spin it, I’m not the coming late to the median wage as you seem to imply in this statement:

            “We have been beating on the median income drum for months, welcome to the club Jeni.”

  5. Would you agree with me, then, that if the per capita wage in a particular community is x, then each new individual who earns x+1, or each existing individual who gets a raise to x+1, has increased the per capita wage?

    See, you are asserting that, for an INDIVIDUAL earning the average wage, $18.00, he may or may not be motiviated to seek a wage of $17.00 in a new position. Fair enough. But if they can fill all positions at $17.00, the per capita wage of the COMMUNITY will increase.

    True?

  6. It’s nobody’s damn business what Friesen Foods pays its employees other than to Friesen Foods and their employees. I cannot get over this discussion. Nobody cares what the casinos, or the fast food restaurants, or the convenience stores pay. This is nanny state at its worst. I cannot believe I am in America.

    • Steve, actually, you’re wrong for many reasons. First of all, the the company is making claims on wages and environmental impacts, property values etc. If they’re willing to BS in one area, it’s safe to assume they’re BSing on others. So we care.

      Despite the fact that after Friesen met with the county the zoning regs were changed the site chosen still requires a special use permit as it is not specifically zoned for this purpose. The ZBOA will make a decision based on many factors. For instance, they must find that the project will not have a negative impact on property values. It must be in harmony with surrounding uses. They utilize the growth policy as a determining factor and it includes a number of provisions for the economic impact on cascade county, on water etc. So it is very much our business, and this is why Friesen is making a “pitch.”

      I would say it’s also our business what they pay when you look at the hiring practices of these places and the incredible negative impact they have on communities. If you’re going to abruptly absorb thousands of low wage workers you need to be prepared for how to handle that.

      • Mr. Nikokakalos, you’ve made incorrect claims on the wages of Great Falls as part of your argument against the Friesen project, as I’ve shown in a previous response.

        Therefore, If you’re willing to BS in one area, you’re willing to BS in another. There’s the logic, used against you.

    • Yep, Mr. Vinnedge, Friesen is a private company and I agree with you. No one should tell a private company how to run their business. The nanny state mentality is why a lot of folks flee California. Their personal and property rights have been infringed.

      Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens uses wages as one of their main arguments against the project. From their website:

      “Of all the spurious claims made by Friesen regarding the slaughterhouse complex perhaps the most egregious involves hiring. It should insult your intelligence that they think you will buy it. The wages they claim they “intend” to pay would make them noncompetitive and bankrupt in short order and are still nothing special regardless.”

      I looked into Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens claims, found inconsistencies and incorrect information, I brought that to light. It seems that’s how the wage discussion got started.

      • No one should tell a private company how to run their business? So you are an anarchist? Do you believe in worker safety regulations? Environmental protections? When a private company is undertaking a venture that will have serious consequences for neighbors there should be no protections? What about their personal property rights? That’s a simplistic and childish argument.

        Again, what inconsistencies and incorrect information did you uncover exactly? What I see are frivolous arguments and cheap shots that bring us back the same place. You write a whole lot. But you actually say very little.

        • Just more examples of aggrandizing from Mr Nikolakalos….nothing to see here folks.

          I am not going to explain to you how “no one should tell a private company how to run their business” doesn’t equate to being an anarchist and not wanting any safety regulations, environmental protections, etc.

          It should be evident to anyone that you’re simply conflagrating.

          • Seems pretty literal to me. No one should tell a private company how to run a business means what it means, it’s not some kind of common saying. Followed by a reference to the nanny state, followed by a call to personal property rights. I’m generally pretty business friendly. I roll my eyes at things like a minimum wage. But I also understand property rights are nuanced, especially when one side claiming them against the interests of Montana families is a foreign citizen with a newly formed US corporation. We have had a number of people on our site who seem to be quasi anarchistic. They seem to believe that anyone should be able to do anything they want on their private property, that’s what I was getting at.

  7. I think my discourse will show I’ve been reasonable and reasoned. Yours, however, has not.

    Mr Nikokakaslos, you and Ms Hermiller are driving reasonable, middle-of-the-road, mind-not-yet made-up people like me away from considering your claims and arguments as valid because:

    1. In my opinion, you are far too loose with the facts and you use far too many generalizations and illogical arguments to support your claims and arguments.

    2. Nearly every time someone disagrees with one of your “facts” or arguments, you take it as a personal affront. You respond with bullying, mobbing, name calling, and sarcastic insults. One only need to look at both of your responses, on this blog and on your websites, to see that. I understand your websites and your rhetoric are going to be heavily one-sided but that’s not the problem. You can still firmly take a side while allowing reasonable discourse, something that you don’t seem to understand. If you call your websites reasoned discussion, you are full of you know what. What goes on there is reminiscent of cult mentality.

    And for those reasons, It makes me suspicious of the validity of your arguments and claims. I’ve told you that previously. However, you respond by accusing me of giving Friesian a free pass and of not being suspicious of Friesen. Well, maybe I am suspicious their arguments and claims too. I wrote a response in this blog, for example, questioning a possible Friesen connection with NeighborWorks new, what they are calling “workforce housing.” But you choose to ignore that fact and instead insist I’m a slaughterhouse proponent.

    Just because I’m suspicious of your fact, arguments and claims and have also written about those, doesn’t mean I’m not suspicious of Friesen. But in your illogical reasoning, you seem to think it’s either or.

    • Jeni, I understand you are a self appointed champion of critical thinking and logic but I think if you took a step back you would realize you are applying neither evenly which is neither logical nor the proper application of critical thinking. Just like many, especially in a social media setting on a hot button and personal issue, I can get heated and confrontational in a way I probably wouldn’t in person, however, your assertions are overly dramatic. You are right that I will let the record speak for itself in that regard.

      As for as how we “play” with our facts… Once again, we do indeed put our interpretation on what we post. But virtually everything we post comes with a link to a reputable source which you can use to access yourself and make your own conclusion. This includes the One Montana study which you made a false and frivolous accusation about. On our website we include dozens of studies, articles etc. Again, people can read for themselves and draw their own conclusions. We have purposefully chosen to only include reputable sources. There is a lot of questionable and sensational material out there, especially on environmental issues, we screen it out.

      So lets summarize a couple days worth of back and post on the main issue you attacked us on, jobs/wages.

      Mr.Hanson touts the 16-17 dollar average wage number. You have admitted yourself that using the average wage is a poor metric. Why is he using it? Because he knows when most people hear that number they will assume it’s a standard or even starting wage for a person at the plant. He is doing exactly what you are accusing us of.

      And what are we doing on the numbers? We posted a reference to an in-depth feasibility study on a Montana slaughterhouse. We have posted/cited the BLS median wage statistic of about 13 dollars an hour (it’s actually a little less) countless times on our page and also presented that statistic at our community meeting at the Civic Center. Again, 13 an hour is the median wage. That means it includes meatpackers in supervisory positions, people with years of experience making more as well as those just starting our. That number also doesn’t include the lower wages made by custodians who are a large part of slaughterhouse workforces. So by using that 13 an hour median wage claim we’re actually being quite generous if you ask me. Above, you seconded Mr. Gregg’s comparative use of the wildly inappropriate (for this application) per capita income metric, by the way, so it’s pretty obvious to me you are still very much working through the statistics and what they mean well after you have already forwarded many arguments on the matter.

      Your big point of attack against my credibility in this regard, is that I chose to display a page of the study that showed more of the 10 dollar an hour jobs VS the 12 and 14. In reality, with a 13 an hour median wage that is probably what a typical custodian or entry-level meatpacking wage is likely going to be… 10 or so an hour with the opportunity to work up to the median wage and perhaps a bit beyond beyond. This doesn’t seem like it’s loose with the facts to me at all. And when you compare it to Mr. Hanson’s analysis and methods it seems downright scientific

      So we agree a mean wage is a less than perfect metric but even at Hanson’s “good paying” 16-17 an hour average wage (which is about the average the One Montana study cites) it’s 2-3 dollars an hour lower than what we have in the greater population right now. The median income is murkier because household income is generally used for a median income but when you do the math it should lower the area’s real individual median income as well. Again, I don’t know what you want to argue here. That these are good paying jobs? That they’re jobs people like doing? If so why is the attrition rate so high? If so why is there such a body of reporting calling out the brutal nature of the jobs? If so then why is the workforce for them overwhelmingly imported in every community that has one? Instead of merely attempting to poke holes in arguments, I would suggest you try to forward one of your own that makes whatever case it is you’re trying to make.

      • Nikokakalos, you wrote:
        “Again, I don’t know what you want to argue here. That these are good paying jobs?”

        I’m arguing that they are not far off the median wage for Great Falls, while you have argued that they are.

        You wrote:
        “In reality, with a 13 an hour median wage that is probably what a typical custodian or entry-level meatpacking wage is likely going to be.” Okay, let take that as the “reality” rather than Friesen claims of several dollars more.

        The Bureau of Labor Statistic shows median wage of $14.72 for Great Falls. I had that in my piece and you took issue with it, giving Jacobson’s figure instead which is average not median. You the one comparing apples and oranges, not me.

        So your median of $13 is fairly close to my median of $14.72. Is that simple enough for you to understand?

        • I’m going to have to be entirely honest here… I just re-read your article and I totally missed the line in your article quoting the 14.72 the first time I read it. That would have saved a lot of tooth gnashing and also explains why you found my quoting Mr. Jacobson out of line and irrelevant, which also would have measured my response to your responses in that regard. So a good chunk of this debate spiraling downwards was my missing that data point. I would not have used that statistic in my response had I taken note of yours properly and would not have gotten so worked up at the back and forth following that so for that I apologize. That means that some, *some* of the arguments you made make against my tactics make more sense in retrospect and some of the responses I made in that regard are weak.

          What I would have said going backwards then is that’s a substantial difference. Jobs that are more than 15% lower in median income is substantial. If you told someone to take a 15% paycut today, it would devastate most people. If you give them a 15% raise it’s huge. We’re talking more than 3,000 dollars a year. 3,000 jobs at that level would put a real dent in that figure for the entire county. There is no definition of “good paying” that lowers your median and average income. That is a prime example low wage. I would say that we are already a relatively low wage median income county so wages lower than what we have now are clearly low wage. Now, when you consider the difficult nature of the work it’s no wonder they are forced to hire abroad.

          I stand by my calling these low wage jobs because as I have said a number of times no matter how you slice it that’s what comes up. I believe it is technically correct, and correct in spirit. Now would you say that Mr Hanson calling them good paying is reasonable? If so by what metric?

  8. Hey plant supporters, WHEN is Friesen going to have a public meeting JUST LIKE WE DID in which hundreds of their supporters show up? What are they going to do? Bus in all the Hoots from Canada and the U.S.? Jesus, folks. If you can’t see that this thing is a loser, you never will!

    • Good point Larry !! The back and forth banter I just forced my self from falling asleep while reading it had to be the the biggest display of mental gymnastics between two individuals basically splitting hairs over 3.00 an hour I have ever read !!! Where is this 17.00 an hour in the first place ??? I certainly don’t recall that figure being said by Hanson or Friesen…. The fact remains you can do an internet search and the national average wage paid to line workers in the slaughter house industry comes in at 12.76 an hour. Period. End of story. So, based exactly on WHAT are we to believe Friesen is going to be such a wonderful employer and offer more than 4.00 per hour than the national average to people with little to NO experience in the industry ???

  9. most obvious omission in this whole article is Mr. Jacobson, who says the average wage in our town is 17 an hour. I know he is great at protecting his own interests, but where is the average worker making 17.00 an hour?

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