Percentages & Percentage Points

Mistakes are often used to obscure the truth. Do you know the difference between a percent and percentage point? It’s the kind of question you’d rather not be asked at a job interview.  Luckily, I was  prepped by a friend to expect this question at the Financial Times.

People are often scared of data and statistics and of numbers. This item was sparked by this post.
Sometimes mistakes are mistakes and sometimes they occur to obscure the truth. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the use of percentages.

This item is for anyone who’s ever wondered about percentage points and percentages.

A percentage point is the simple numerical difference between two percentages. A percentage is a number or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100. If you want pedantic and highly considered descriptions of how to use percentages, try this published two years ago today (September 12, 2011). Please do let me know what you think.
Helpful example: An increase from 40 per cent to 50 per cent will often be described as a 10 per cent increase. However, it is a 10 percentage point increase and a 25 per cent increase which is quite a difference.

Marian Edmunds

September 12, 2013

marian at the writing