rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Saskatchewan Party employment math: From the Great Wall to the Berlin Wall

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Please support our coverage of democratic movements and become a supporting member of rabble.ca.

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released my policy brief on Saskatchewan job creation. Using Statistics Canada figures, it demonstrated that "workforce growth has been almost identical during the premierships of Brad Wall and Lorne Calvert." Unsurprisingly, the main explanatory variable for Saskatchewan employment appears to be commodity prices rather than the party in power.

The governing Saskatchewan Party need not have been particularly offended by this conclusion. However, its narrative is that the province was like East Germany under the NDP and that Wall has unleashed "unprecedented growth."

So, Economy Minister Bill Boyd responded by accusing me of using "selective statistics" and of living in "Ontario" (inexplicably blowing what could have been a clear shot at Toronto). He then stretched his statistics to the breaking point: "Boyd's email added that between 1991 and 2007, the NDP created 51,100 new jobs. 'Including the numbers to date in 2013 . . . we are already ahead of that in six years,' he wrote."

It's certainly true that Saskatchewan employment growth was unimpressive during the 1990s, as it had been during the 1980s under the Progressive Conservatives (Wall and Boyd's former party). Commodity prices were depressed during those decades. But Boyd overreached by claiming to have already created more jobs than the NDP had in 16 years.

According to the Labour Force Survey, Saskatchewan employment rose by 60,700 between November 1991, when New Democrats took office, and November 2007, when the Sask. Party took office. Boyd scrunches that number down to 51,100 by instead comparing the annual averages for 1991 and 2007.

A similar comparison of annual averages would indicate that employment rose by 32,700 between 2007 and 2012 under the Sask. Party. Seasonally adjusted monthly figures indicate a rise of 43,900 between November 2007 and May 2013 (as noted in my brief).

How does Boyd get over the hurdle of 51,100? He makes that month-over-month comparison using unadjusted figures, pushing it up to 52,400. In addition to annual increases in employment, Boyd takes credit for the fact that more agricultural workers, construction workers and students are always employed in May than in November.

Because of those same seasonal factors, Saskatchewan employment has been even higher in June than in May during every year for which we have Labour Force Survey data. So, hold onto your hats for the release of another all-time record high employment number on Friday!

Oranges were in notoriously short supply in East Germany. But there must be plenty of oranges in the New Saskatchewan because Boyd liberally compares them to apples.

I had the following letter in this week's Regina Leader-Post:

Jobs: NDP did better

In "Parties duel over development visions" (June 26), Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd incorrectly alleges that my recent analysis of provincial employment "ignores the first five months of 2013."

In fact, I presented seasonally adjusted figures from Statistics Canada covering the entire period from November 2007, when Boyd's government took office, through May 2013.

I also presented the unadjusted data, which must be compared with the same month in prior years to avoid seasonal fluctuations. Therefore, these figures cover the period from November 2007 to November 2012. By either measure, employment growth has been slightly slower during the five years of Sask. Party government than during the preceding five years of NDP government.

Boyd claims that his government has created more jobs by citing unadjusted figures from November 2007 to the seasonal peak of May 2013. In other words, he compares different seasons without using seasonally adjusted numbers. He then uses annual averages for the NDP's time in office. Talk about "selective statistics"!

Boyd opposes collecting a better return on Saskatchewan's natural resources because "that money has to come from taxpayers." In fact, resource royalties are not a tax on Saskatchewan people. Royalties are payments to Saskatchewan people from companies that wish to extract the province's non-renewable resources.

Despite high commodity prices, Boyd's policy has been to give away these resources for minimal royalties to promote rapid exploitation. Saskatchewan could create more jobs and improve quality of life by collecting more royalty revenue to fund needed investments in provincial infrastructure and services.

Erin Weir, Toronto
Weir is an economist with the United Steelworkers' Canadian national office. He was a candidate for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership in March.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.