The vagaries of the labour force survey

One month you’re up a little and the next you are down.  Canada had a huge increase in employment over the last month according to Statistics Canada.  New Brunswick was the only province to see a decline in employment month over month.

Total Employment Change (Oct-Nov 2009)

 

(000s)

ONT

27.1

QC

21.4

AB

12.8

BC

9.9

MAN

3.1

NL

2.7

SK

1.8

NS

1.5

PEI

0.4

NB

-1.6

 

But our trusty spin doctors work overtime to spit and polish the data and we get this from GNB.  They literally don’t say that employment dropped from October to November but they do say this:

Employment growth in November was strongest in the following sectors: finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; accommodation and food services; and agriculture.

Which of course leads to the reader to believe there actually was employment growth during the month when in fact there was employment decline.  Don’t mind me – it’s just a long standing frustration with how the government feels the need to gin up the data on one hand and then posture there is a sense of urgency to make big changes on the other.

If you were to look at every press release issued by GNB for the past 10 years about the monthly labour market report you would see  the exact type of release.  If you were to go to the CANSIM database and check total employment growth over the past 10 years (annual), you would see the following data:

Employment, unadjusted for seasonal variation (1999-2008)

 

1999

2008

% Change

CAN

12,055,809

14,817,695

22.9%

NL

164,238

191,013

16.3%

PEI

51,417

61,069

18.8%

NS

339,301

396,080

16.7%

NB

277,414

312,732

12.7%

QC

2,870,890

3,378,855

17.7%

ONT

4,754,729

5,704,709

20.0%

MAN

458,304

562,486

22.7%

SK

356,058

435,300

22.3%

AB

1,229,369

1,776,624

44.5%

BC

1,512,490

1,942,693

28.4%

Source: Statistics Canada Table 281-0024.

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3 Responses to The vagaries of the labour force survey

  1. Samonymous says:

    Gerrymandering numbers and cherry picking good data over bad is an art form for people who have had to dwell within the so-called halls of power in hopes that someday real solutions will fall out of the sky and land directly on their lap.

  2. Anonymous says:

    See post number 8 in “Back in the Saddle” regarding spin.

    We spend way too much taxpayer money on it. It has the effect of dumbing down our population (most who do not have time to question the data) and, some of the politicians themselves start to buy the BS and that is when it gets very dangerous.

    Reporting and comaparrisons with. such important data should be consistent. The spin doctors are in the OR now doing plastic surgery on debt data. Watch for some crazy BS on that issue.

  3. Samonymous says:

    We spin for a reason here in NB when it comes to the outlook of our overall economy. Look at the U.S. right now, they’ve only been in a serious economic downturn for just over a year now and they’re already attempting to find light out of a bad situation, unlike early in the economic downturn where their messaging was more pointed and bleak (the latter being something I think David wishes governments would do more of here with employment figures and the economic situation).

    A crisis deserve to be treated like a crisis, not glossed over.

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