You must be getting tired of this each month but I have to admit I think it’s kind of fun. The Labour Force Survey comes out, the province spins and spins and spins and the media – if they cover it at all – tends to serve up a few numbers with a couple of quotes from Sam LeBreton or some Stats Canada guy/gal.
As you know, NB had a great 2007 for employment growth. It was a good year. 2008, however; has not been as kind. We have among the worst employment performance data in 2008 of any province in Canada – but you would never know it from the provincial press release or the media. In fact, the province’s press release leads with “Thousands more New Brunswickers in labour force“.
The reality is that employment is down in 2008 so far from the end of 2007. Across Canada, there have been 89,000 new jobs created and we have gone slightly backward. There have been 53,000 new full time jobs created across Canada while we have lost 3,200 full time jobs in New Brunswick.
And what does Minister Doherty have to say?
“I am very encouraged by these figures,” Doherty said. “The significant year-over-year increase in our labour force indicates a confidence in the strategies we have put into place to build a stronger province.
Now you know as well as I do what will happen if the 2008 employment figures continue to sputter. That means in 2009, the Dr. Doherty won’t be able to use the month over month or the year over year data. Then the spinning gets more tricky. You get into a Bernard Lord moment where you either say a) I don’t believe the Statistics Canada numbers or b) you can try and find some other point in time to compare to.
Dr. Doherty should tell his spinners to pound sand and just put the data on the table. I wouldn’t object – at all to showing the year over year as long as the current 2008 data (what matters) was on the table. I would advise Minister Doherty to say something like this: “2007 was a good year for employment growth. The refurbishment at Lepreau, the LNG plant construction, etc. led to a strong performance. However, 2008 is down and we are monitoring it very closely. We are committed to not just standing by and watching the employment numbers go up and mostly down. We are proactively pursuing policies that will lead to significant business investment in all regions of the province.”
The problem is that they have been in power for over two years and the employment creation that can be tied directly to government policy and ED activity (if you review the BNB press releases) is well below the levels of the Lord government in the last two years of that tepid government.