Do Christy Clark’s boasts on job creation hold up? Nope. Nada. Not even close.

- October 28th, 2012

On Saturday, BC Premier Christy Clark spoke to her party’s convention in Whistler, B.C. During the speech, she mentioned several times that B.C. was leading the country when it came to job creation.

For example, as the Vancouver Sun‘s Jonathan Fowlie reported, Clark said, “I’m going to run on (being) number one in job creation.” The Globe‘s Gary Mason, reporting on the speech,wrote, “As expected, there was lots of talk about recent job-creation numbers that ranked B.C. first in the country.” Dirk Meissner of the Canadian Press wrote: “She [Clark] said B.C. has created 57,000 jobs over the last year, more than any other province in Canada.”

That last claim is demonstrably false and the others are pretty wobbly too. Statistics Canada, said right here on October 5, the most recent and up-to-date snapshot of the country’s job creation numbers, that “over the last year” in B.C., there are 44,700 more full-time jobs, 15,100 fewer part-time jobs for a net gain of 29,500 more jobs. Where on earth does Clark get 57,000 new jobs created?

UPDATE: Several correspondents point out that if you compare B.C.’s September 2012 total employment to the number from August 2011, you get 57,000. In words, Premier Clark’s year is 13 months long. Now, in 20 years of covering city councils, businesses, and the federal government, this is the first time I have heard a CEO, mayor, premier, etc. use the phase “over the last year” and then lear after that fact that “last year” actually meant the last 13 months. To stretch a reporting period simply to fluff up some numbers would likely bring some serious sanctions if you did that on Wall Street or Bay Street.

Whether it’s a company reporting earnings, an NGO reporting environmental data, or a politician, academic or economist talking about changes in data over time, there’s a few basics I think everyone understands , the most basic of which is, if you say “we’re doing better than last year” than we understand you are talking about the last twelve — the most recent twelve — consecutive months. And, generally speaking, it is a well-received tradition to talk about how your numbers today stack up to the same quarter last year, to this time last year, to this time time three months ago, or to this time six months ago. But I have never heard anyone talk about “This time 13 months ago.”

Sticking to the normal definition of “last year”, namely, 12 months ago, and using one basic job creation yardstick — the unemployment rate — things have actually worsened in the last 12 months: In September 2011, the month when Clark’s government unveiled its so-called BC Jobs Plan, B.C.s unemployment rate was 6.8%. It has since gone up and is now at 7.0%. I’m surprised that the two NDP MLAs who had observer status at this convention weren’t jumping up-and-down hollering about this basic point.

Oh, and that BC Jobs Plan: It was announced and put into place one year ago — namely, 12 months ago so far as unemployment data goes, in September 2011 — and not 13 months ago. So that begs the question: Shouldn’t we be examining the B.C. government’s record from the time – one year ago – when it introduced and implemented its BC Jobs Plan?

of course, we should, and so let’s go through the year-over-year data and compare that to the national averages and to other provinces to see how B.C. is doing. Short answer: BC is doing Ok but BC is not leading any provinces when it comes to September-to-September comparisons:

[A note for those who want to check my math and data in this post: Almost all the calculations and comparisons here are mine. All the data I use for this calculations and comparisons are drawn from Statistics Canada's Table 282-0087.]

Population of working-age people:

  • B.C.’s population of working age adults (15 years of age or over) grew 34,400 or 0.91%. That growth was worse than the national average and was 7th best by percentage among all provinces.
  • Canada’s population of working adults grew 331,200 or 1.18%
  • Absolute growth: Ontario was tops with 144,300 new working age-adults added to population.
  • Relative growth: Alberta was tops with 2.3% growth in this category. B.C. 7th. Newfoundland was worst at -0.3%.
Labour force
  • B.C.’s labour force grew by 37,700 people or 1.53%. That relative growth was better than the national average and was 3rd best among provinces.
  • Canada’s labour force grew by 222,100 people or 1.19%
  • Absolute growth: Ontario was tops with 68,600 more or 0.94% in work force.
  • Relative growth: Newfoundland had the most rapid growth of its labour force at 2.35%. B.C. was 3rd. PEI’s labour force was worst. It shrank 1.93%
Employment
  • There are 29,500 more British Columbians with a job than there were a year ago. That’s a 1.28% increase in the level of employment. That relative growth was better than the national average but was 5th best among all provinces.
  • Across the country, there are 174,500 more people with jobs an improvement of 1.0%.
  • Absolute growth: Ontario leaders again with 44,700 new jobs.
  • Relative growth: Newfoundland has had the most rapid job creation in the last year with 3.81 per cent more jobs in that province. B.C. was 5th. PEI was worst with 1.77% fewer jobs.
Unemployment rate
  • In B.C., the unemployment rate is up, compared to a year ago, by 0.2 percentage points and now sits at 7.0%.
  • The unemployment rate in B.C. now is better than the national unemployment rate which was 7.4%
  • Compared to other provinces now, B.C.’s unemployment rate was 4th best. Alberta’s is best at 4.4%. Newfoundland’s is worst at 12.3%
  • In terms of year-over-year improvement in lowering the unemployment rate. B.C. was the same as the national average but was the 4th worst compared to other provinces. Newfoundland has done the best bringing its unemployment rate down by 1.3 percentage points while New Brunswick had the poorest performance, as its unemployment rate few by two full percentage points in the last year. B.C. was one of 6 provinces that has a higher unemployment rate now than it did a year ago.

Let’s take a different measurement period. Let’s look at these same numbers since Clark became premier on March 14, 2011. Statscan only counts full months so we’ll compare the data from April, 2011 to September 2012. You get pretty much the same results. B.C. is never first or leading among its provincial peers and occasionally beats the national average.

Population:

  • B.C.’s population of working age adults (15 years of age or over) grew 51,800 or 1.37%. That growth was worse than the national average and was 6th best by percentage among all provinces.
  • Canada’s population of working adults grew 473,500 or 1.70%
  • Absolute growth: Ontario was tops with 205,300 new working age-adults added to population.
  • Relative growth: Alberta was tops with 3.12% growth in this category. B.C. 6th. Newfoundland was worst at -0.44%.
Labour force
  • B.C.’s labour force grew by 40,800 people or 1.66%. That relative growth was better than the national average and was 4th best in relative growth
  • Canada’s labour force grew by 260,400 people or 1.39%
  • Absolute growth: Ontario was tops with 62,800 more.
  • Relative growth: Alberta the most rapid growth of its labour force at 2.9%. B.C. was 4th. Newfoundland’s labour force was worst. It grew by just 0.12%
Employment
  • There are 58,200 more British Columbians with a job than there were when Clark became premier. That’s a 2.56% increase in the level of employment. That relative growth was better than the national average but was 3rd best among all provinces.
  • Across the country, there are 284,800 more people with jobs an improvement of 1.65%.
  • Absolute growth: Alberta leads here with a whopping 92,900 new jobs since April 2011.
  • Relative growth: Alberta also leads in relative terms for most rapid job creation since Clark took over with 4.5 per cent more jobs in that province. B.C. was 3rd. Newfoundland was worst with 1.12% fewer jobs.
Unemployment rate
  • In B.C., the unemployment rate is down 0.8 percentage points to 7.0% now compared to Clark’s first month when it was 7.8%.
  • The unemployment rate in B.C. when Clark took over was worse than the national rate. As we noted above it is now better than the national unemployment rate.
  • Compared to other provinces when Clark took over, B.C.’s unemployment rate was 4th best. Alberta’s is best at 4.4%. Newfoundland’s is worst at 12.3%
  • In terms of improvement in lowering the unemployment rate since Clark took over in the spring of 2011, B.C. improvement was better than the national average but was the 2nd best compared to other provinces. Alberta has done the best since Clark took over bringing its unemployment rate down by 1.5 percentage points while New Brunswick had the poorest performance, as its unemployment rate few by 1.1 percentage points in the same period. B.C. was 2nd best after Alberta and among six provinces that has seen its unemployment rate drop since Clark took office.

Categories: BC Politics, Economy

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1 comment

  1. Geoff Ball says:

    If the numbers got that much better from August 2011 to September 2011 (without the BC Jobs Plan yet in effect), then perhaps the BC Jobs Plan is spurious. It could have nothing to do with The Plan, but Clark is attributing the increased numbers to her government’s policies.

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