Megaprojects give a lot upfront but…..

The Conference Board’s prediction for New Brunswick:

New Brunswick’s work force will lose more than 3,000 jobs next year as the economy takes a nosedive and construction of megaprojects draws to a close, the Conference Board of Canada reports. About 2,700 jobs will leave construction while weak demand south of the border strips another 900 jobs from the forestry, manufacturing and mining sectors. The province’s economic outlook looks grim in the board’s fall forecast, released Thursday, at just one per cent growth in gross domestic product for the remainder of this year and 0.8 per cent growth in 2009. The construction boom will recede by next year as the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor and work on the Canaport liquefied natural gas terminal finish.

That is exactly why economic development strategy should be independent from megaprojects. These large scale highway paving, bridge building, LNG plant/potash mill building projects bump up short term job numbers but leave limited economic benefit long term.

Politicians bask in the glow of the good numbers (think 2007) and then run for cover when the numbers turn south.

I am not against megaprojects but running in parallel should be plans to see development in durable, longer term economic activity.

If I were advising Steve Carson, for example, in Saint John, I would be recommending he develop a longer term strategy for the development of that city’s nascent ICT sector. I am not saying avoid energy – to the contrary it should be supported – but in parallel other key sectors should be priority.

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0 Responses to Megaprojects give a lot upfront but…..

  1. Vincerolly says:

    Saint John’s ICT sector has been nascent for some time, with only slight increases in size and capability, much of it in micro-businesses that employ a small number.

    I’m not convinced that the ICT industry is the potential growth engine postulated by its supporters. What data supports your view?

  2. David Campbell says:

    I don’t have any rigorous data but from 1996 to 2006 Saint John went from 615 persons employed in computer and information systems occupations to 2,130 and increase of 246% – well above the growth rates in IT workers in most other urban areas in Canada. The ratio of 33 IT workers per 1,000 in the labour force in Saint John is above most of its peers such as Halifax, Moncton, Montreal and Winnipeg.

    That doesn’t necessary mean further growth but I like what I am hearing from Gerry Pond and PropelICT. There are some interesting small IT firms with growth potential and few larger ones.

    The broader point is that Saint John’s economic growth needs to anchored by more than just energy and retail.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Saint John also went from Saint John to Saint John and outlying areas.
    Lot of people play that increase game,when they looking for a positive,particularly the bilingual bunch.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Not true. The Saint John CMA did not change from the 1996 to 2006 Census periods. Not sure who the bilingual bunch is. Maybe you mean the brady bunch?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The bilingual bunch were the people who compared the increase in french in Saint John by comparing Saint John to Saint John Metropolitan Area.Do you not like that pointed out?

    And what about this information a great accountant came up with?

    Statistics Canada data shows a decline in the number of firms in the IT industry in New Brunswick over the past five years. Using the industry sectors mentioned above, there has been a 13 per cent decline in IT firms in the province from June 2003 to June 2008 compared to a 15 per cent growth in firms across Canada. In fact, New Brunswick was the only province to register a decline in IT firms during the five year period.Quote of David Campbell.

    Who are the brady bunch?

  6. David Campbell says:

    I still don’t know your point. There has been a decline in overall IT establishments 2005-2008 but there was a big increase in IT workers in Saint John from 1996 to 2006. These are Statistics Canada figures. I stand by my original comment that there is a nascent IT industry in SJ that has some potential for growth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “These are Statistics Canada figures”

    You don’t mind giving the URL as for some reason I am a full range skeptic.
    I’m sure you haven’t reached the point yet where YOU are the URL of verification.
    Cause you probably read where IT has dropped drastically in Canada.

  8. David Campbell says:

    Gosh. I guess I can’t post such a long url. Just go to Click on Census. Scroll to the October 28, 2008 release. Click on Labour. Scroll down to the one called Occupation – Standard Occupational Classification 1991 (Historical) (707), Age Groups (12A) and Sex (3) for the Labour Force 15 Years and Over and click on it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am not very familiar with the ICT industry, but a smaller number of firms combined to an increase in employment sounds very good to me. It sueggests that consolidation is happening and firms are probably making better use of resources. Something like this is sorely needed in the environmental industry – both in NB and across Canada.

    But I believe that StatCan’s ICT stats include employment in call centers for minimum wage (David, correct me if I am wrong). If that is the case, the employment numbers can hardly be taken as a good indicator of a bright future for the ICT industry in NB.

  10. Anonymous says:

    David, I got the answer to my own question. You were referring to “C070 – Computer and Information Systems Professionals”. Point taken.

    I also noticed that 2,130 workers represents 3.3% of the total labour force, which is better than the 2.6% of Halifax. But it is still virtually the same as Fredericton, lower than Charlottetown (3.4%), and a long way to match Toronto (4.4%). And let’s not even mention Ottawa-Gatineau (7.1%). It would be interesting to see how it compares to the average in Canadian CMAs – I don’t have time to check it out…

  11. David Campbell says:

    Don’t say I never did anything for ya. I don’t have them all but here is a sample.

    Persons in computer and information systems occupations
    (% of the labour force) – 2006
    Toronto 4.4%
    Calgary 3.7%
    Kitchener 3.4%
    Fredericton 3.4%
    Vancouver 3.3%
    Regina 3.3%
    Saint John 3.3%
    Montreal 3.3%
    Moncton 3.1%
    Canada 2.7%
    Halifax 2.6%
    Winnipeg 2.6%

  12. David Campbell says:

    But I believe that StatCan’s ICT stats include employment in call centers for minimum wage

    Nope. Here is the data you want for customer service reps.

    Customer service, information and related clerks (per 1,000 in the labour force) – 2006
    Moncton 44.9
    Fredericton 24.6
    Saint John 38.2
    Halifax 23.9
    Montreal 12.6
    Toronto 14.6
    Kitchener 15.7
    Winnipeg 16.3
    Regina 22.9
    Calgary 11.4
    Vancouver 11.2
    Canada 12.0

    The average annual wage for this occupation (those who worked full time) in 2005 was $20,518 per year which is about $10/hour. You can look this up as well go to the Stats Can website and under income and earnings look for this table:

    Employment Income Statistics (4) in Constant (2005) Dollars, Work Activity in the Reference Year (3), Occupation – National Occupational Classification for Statistics 2006 (720A) and Sex (3) for the Population 15 Years and Over With Employment Income of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2000 and 2005 – 20% Sample Data

  13. David Campbell says:

    I suppose you might like the average wage data for full time full year workers in the computer programming occupations. It is $41,720/year. You can see the difference between the two and the importance of having more jobs created in the computer area.

  14. Anonymous says:

    somewhat offtopic, but you can use standard HTML tags to specify long URLs that don’t break.

    a HTML tutorial about making links