I suspect that we will get a rousingly good news buffet in tomorrow’s news about the unemployment rate in NB dropping to 7.6%. It certainly is almost without precedent.
But it does very little to change the fundamentals. We are still in population stagnation/decline (depending on the time horizon you use). Our job creation is primarily coming from two sources: call centres and government workers. The former provides very little taxes to the coffers and the latter pulls from those coffers. Many of our blue collar workers are migrating west with the lure of Alberta. We are increasing our dependence on Equalization with every year that passes.
My point is that the low unemployment rate is a distraction. A tool that governments and Samuel LeBreton can use to shield the public from the serious problems facing the economy.
I blogged on this before but it it worth while mentioning that a few years ago Saskatchewan was all in an uproar. Even though they had a 4% unemployment rate and were a “have problem”, the politicians figured out that all of that didn’t mean much if there was no one left to benefit (their population was in decline). So they are now spending millions of dollars on advertising in Alberta and Ontario to attract people to Saskatchewan and more to drive economic development initiatives (biotech, biofuels, etc.).
I’ll give the government credit when:
Our need for Equalization actually starts to decline (it is projected to increase until at least 2011).
Our population starts to increase for at least a couple of years straight.
We start to see some job creation in the $50K/year salary range that are not government jobs (oh, and not private sector jobs funded by the NB government – i.e. the Lepreau refurb).
In other words, when we start turning the ship around.