Relative figures are another irritating source of confusion. Many researchers and / or reporters on research argue with relative figures without giving the absolute ones at the same time. In the context of poverty, this often means a relative decline in poverty and an increase in the absolute number of the poor (largely due to the population explosion).
As a personal rule of thumb, I ignore any relative figure which does not provide a relation to the absolute. (On a personal note: I confess to an increase in smoking of 100 percent between 2011 and 2012, from 2 cigarillos smoked during my annual holiday in 2011 to 4 smoked during 2012!)