These are important points that hold water, and it would have been great had the El Paso or Warren County stories included some of this sort of analysis, honed to their particular regions. On the flip side, it’s worth remembering that any analysis that seeks to explain the numbers in the context of the recession is far from complete—next year’s numbers will include late-2008 and onward, offering a fuller picture of recessionary effects on both immigration and migration. So yes, reports—local and national—should try to make sense of the numbers, but they should also resist any impulse to offer up a premature frame. Projections are enticing, but they can also shift kaleidoscopically. Beware.

Jane Kim is a writer in New York.