Further to my column this morning, a couple of charts worth considering. I do not support a significant increase in government focus on tourism. Again, I reiterate that there is a role for government to play in coordination and support for the tourism industry but I think that in a time when we have to make hard choices, I wouldn’t place more resources here.
The reasons are both economic and workforce related. On the economic front, tourism jobs are low paying and therefore generate limited tax revenue for government. On the workforce front, I don’t think we can expect people to stay in New Brunswick and work in tourism jobs. This sector is already feeling the pain of a tightening labour market – I have talked with several industry players that cite the lack of a workforce as a major problem. There may be some potential to fill the gap with immigration but, again, do we want to create jobs that generate a couple of thousand in tax dollars for the provincial government when it costs the government over $20,000 per employed person to pay for public services in the province (including debt servicing)?
New Brunswick is not overly exposed to the tourism sector. If we group the employment of the two sectors most associated with tourism (Arts, entertainment and recreation/Accommodation and food services) we see that New Brunswick has slighly below average reliance on these jobs.
Tourism Jobs per 1,000 Employed Persons (2008)
Source: Statistics Canada. Table 281-0024 – Employment (SEPH), unadjusted for seasonal variation, by type of employee for selected industries classified using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), annual (persons)(4,14).
New Brunswick can`t afford to directly support the creation of lower paying jobs. The average wage in New Brunswick is still second lowest in the country. We need to focus on higher wage jobs. These can be in the manufacturing, services or technology sectors but the litmus test for sector focus should be wage rates.
Average Hourly Wage (all workers) – 2008
|Newfoundland and Labrador
|Prince Edward Island
Source: Statistics Canada. Table 282-0072 – Labour force survey estimates (LFS), wages of employees by type of work, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (dollars unless otherwise noted) (table), CANSIM (database).