Targets? What Targets?

Anybody remember the Prosperity Plan? You know, think hard. It’s that potentially-bothersome-document-that-the-media-has-forgot-about Prosperity Plan that was launched with great fanfare a few years ago and held up by the Premier on occasion (although they are mentioning it less and less these days).

In that plan, the ruling party had the misfortune to actually set hard targets such as rising into the list of top four provinces for research and development expenditures (we are still dead last based on the most recent figures for R&D) and my personal favorite, we are supposed to dramatically decreased the GDP gap with the rest of Canada (we have fallen behind all but one year since the current government came into power).

But the topic for today, given that Statistics Canada just released their latest labour market survey, is employment. In the PP, we were told (and I am quoting here):

NB will increase its “employment per working age population” ratio (expressed in relation to national average) by 5 percentage points to reach or exceed 95% of Canadian average by 2012.

Now, admittedly, you would have to have a Phd in economics to understand what that all means but I think it means that New Brunswick will significantly increase the percentage of adults that are working and reduce the gap between us and Canada as a whole.

I am not exactly sure how many years we are into the PP, but according to the latest labour force survey, using month to month comparisons and adjusted data, our employment rate (percentage of working age population that is actually working) has actually dropped from 57.7% in November 1999 to 56% in November 2004. We have dropped below lowly Nova Scotia and now only Newfoundland and Labrador stands between us and the basement among the provinces. Alberta, by contrast, has 69.9% of its working age population actually working. I could be wrong but I think this may have something to do with all the rural plant closures and the fact that something like 100,000 of us collect employment insurance (EI) at some point during the year.

For those of you that like being in last place, have no fear. We have dropped to last place on just about every other economic and social statistic (obesity, educational test scores, Internet usage, etc.) so what’s one more to add to the resume?