The 10% red herring

A red herring is defined as a distractor that draws attention away from the real issue.

The government constantly throws up this statistic of having a lower than 10% unemployment rate. In fact, the Premier calls this one of this top accomplishments.

But once again, as always, they fail to put anything in context.

From December 1999 to 2006 – the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 10.3% to 9.6% – a percentage drop of 7% (not an absolute drop but a percentage drop). Now, during the same period Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate dropped 15%, PEI’s dropped 11%, Manitoba’s dropped 22%, Alberta’s dropped 25% and BC’s dropped 38%.

Now if your ‘unemployment rate’ drop performance has been below the majority of other provinces, how can you hold this among your top accomplishments?

It’s a bit like the Employment Rate (the percentage of working age folks actually working). NB ranks 8th or 9th in this stat depending on the time frame you use and when a reporter asked the Minister of Training and Employment Development about it she said that ‘we don’t measure ourselves against other provinces’ or something like that.

Well, if we can’t compare ourselves to other provinces for population growth/decline, employment rates, unemployment rates, etc. than how do we measure our success?

The next time you hear someone say our unemployment rate is below 10%, you say So? And remind them about the 90,000+ people on Employment Insurance during the year. Remind them about the out-migration for 13 straight years. Remind them that we are among the bottom two or three provinces across almost every economic benchmark.

I have another 10%. That’s the amount of folks that will ultimately buy this notion that we are in a prosperous economy and things are booming.