Per Crapita – the ultimate spin

Someone sent me an email yesterday, talking about New Brunswick’s GDP per capita has performed well in recent years and that I should stop spinning out distorted economic facts.

So, this morning, I will give you a little lesson in what not to do when looking at economic data.

New Brunswick’s GDP growth in the past seven years underperformed the national GDP growth for six of the seven years.

However, because the population has been stagnant or even declining, some tricky political spin hacks, have compared GDP per capita over time (Lord’s guys were good at this) to show how great things are.

So, here is my position on the thing. You compare “per capita” at a specific juncture in time to adjust for the size of the economy/population (i.e. GDP per capita adjusts your economy to a per person basis to allow for meaningful comparison). You do not compare “per capita” against yourself over time. If you take two seconds to think this through you will likely agree with me. If the population actually declined, your GDP per capita would look better – but what’s the friggin’ point? To me this is just a way for political spin guys to actually take bad economic data and spin it out as good economic data.

It’s a joke and should be ignored. The facts are that New Brunswick’s GDP growth has underperformed the national average for decades – with the exception of the years where there was a very large public sector capital project like highway twinning, the Confederation Bridge, Lepreau refurishment, etc.