Context, SVP

You know, one of the things that is most frustrating about journalists in New Brunswick is that they never seem to put economic matters into a context that provides the reader a complete picture of the actual story. For example, the TJ runs a story last week:

Provincial housing market riding a heat wave
National real estate stats show NB has third most active housing market in Canada
By Khalid Malik
Telegraph-Journal

Now, Khalid did his homework. He compares this year’s data to last year’s data. He gets a quote from various experts, etc. All kosher, right? Provincial housing market booming, right?

Maybe.

Here’s my assessment.

There were 122,895 homes sold in Canada in the second quarter of 2005. That’s 4.1 per 1,000 Canadians. There were 1,638 in New Brunswick. That’s 2.2 per 1,000 New Brunswickers.

Now before you get into a protracted debate about how New Brunswicker’s don’t move alot compared to Ontarioians and we can’t compare apples to oranges…

OK. But read Khalid’s headline: Provincial housing market riding a heat wave. The assumption here is that lots of houses being sold is the sign of a good economy. I’m just saying that you can’t take a number (1,638) and another number (9%) and say presto! boom.

As the old saying goes 9% of nothing is still nothing. Khalid should have done his homework and told readers that the New Brunswick economy still generated only half the sales per capita as the country as a whole and only a third of the home sales in Alberta.

And they should use the same methodology with retail sales, GDP growth, EI data, etc.

Context, folks. Give us context, and then, like FOX NEWS, “You Decide!”

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