Interesting NB Power stats

I was in the Census database today for a client and found some interesting stuff relevant to the NB Power discussion.  The table shows the average wage for a full time/full year worker in the electricity biz in New Brunswick (2006 Census) compared to everyone (all full time workers).   In NB this industry has a 70% wage premium over everyone else (compared to 53% across Canada).

And it isn’t tied to labour productivity.  We have 8.7 workers in the sector per 1,000 employed persons (all workers) compared to 6.0 Canada wide (44% more workers in NAICS 2211 compared to Canada as a whole). 


NAICS 2211: Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution




Full Time/Full Year Workers in NAICS 2211



All full time/full year workers in New Brunswick



NAICS 2211 Wage Premium (over everyone else)




Workers in NAICS 2211 (per 1,000 employed persons)




Source: 2006 Census.

11 thoughts on “Interesting NB Power stats

  1. All this proves is that the rest of people working in New Brunswick are underpaid.

    You want to do salary charts, why not compare what university professors are paid at U de M compared with, say, Toronto, Calgary or BC?

    As for things being tied to labour productivity – maybe when they tie wages to productivity for CEOs and bankers – like this guy – will I be more concerned about tying the wages of common proles to productivity.

    Sorry if I sound bitter – it’s just that these race-to-the-bottom salary comparisons are really pernicious, and don’t make anyone’s case.

  2. I don’t think that’s quite the case. It’s an excellent point that underscores David’s point. MAYBE he’s saying they are overpaid and hire too many, I don’t know. But every utility is different. Some comparisons are apt, but can you really compare with PEI? Or ontario, where electricity is a smaller part of the mix. Or Manitoba that has more hydro than anything else, etc.

    Personal experience only counts for so much, and Stephen is on to something here. Government jobs, particularly at NBPower, where many are ‘semi skilled’ were like the grail. People would cut off their right arm for those jobs, but in a small town like Fredericton it was definitely ‘who you know’ (as it is in the private sector,don’t fool yourself).

    This is part of a bigger issue in the country. That ‘race to the bottom’ isn’t actually a race to the bottom, most jobs have always BEEN at the bottom and they are slowly making their way up with the minimum wage. It’s not surprise that when right wing junta’s like in Hondurans have a disaster, the first thing they did was lower the minimum wage. In europe, you pay more for a cup of coffee, but retail people at least earn a living wage.

    Here in canada we are much like the americans. Retail workers just ‘don’t work as hard’ or ‘aren’t as smart’ as ‘knowledge workers’ and so they don’t ‘deserve’ any more. I’d argue the opposite, I’ve known university profs, doctors, and engineers who got a degree but ‘learned’ little and have never added to their knowledge since. Retail is one of the hardest jobs out there.

    It’s a BIG problem, and its unfortunate that with inflation many consistently attack unions and government jobs as ‘being overpaid’. It certainly makes socialism look a heck of a lot better, perhaps people ought to be paid according to needs, rather than what the market THINKS they deserve.

  3. Could also prove that an overcrowded, uncompetitive bureaucracy crowds out important investment needed elsewhere to grow a strong economy.

  4. Is David Campbell implying that productivity is lower by emphasizing 8.7 per thousand versus the lower value for all Canada? Rural versus urban mix of population? Big hydro plants versus diversified smaller plants? More staff to do maintenance brings more reliability? Anecdotal evidence is that when there is a big ice + wind storm, NB has to help out its neighbours because their equipment is not as well maintained and they have fewer staff. That may just be defensive talk from ENBP supporters.

    When someone with obvious facility with statistics and analysis chooses to make a comment without placing it in context better one might wonder “objective comment or not?” It may be that there really are a lot of desks occupied by people at ENBP without qualifications and who do nothing. I would love to be able to prove that, but how does one? If it is true, unloading only 40% of employees to HQ and trying to carry on with less control on revenue will probably make things worse unless the (possible) issue of top heavy non-productive staff is addressed. If that is the key issue, why not solve that first with hard nosed approach before giving up the ghost?

  5. Two factors at play here. Nuclear power is high tech, capital and labor-intensive. Considering Lepreau’s staff constitutes 25% of NAICS 2211 in New Brunswick, it’s quite possible these high-wage and specialized workers skew the stats upwards.

  6. The reference to university pay sent me scurrying to StatsCan catalogue 81-595, the regular survey of salaries of teaching staff at Canadian universities. Stephen Downes has a point – full-time profs at UdeM only made an average of $114,755 in 08/09, assistant profs a modest $77,000 or so. The corresponding salaries for UBC were $154,346 and $100,338. There were no figures for UT in this particular issue of the survey, but they’re probably higher even than UBC. But let’s think about this for a minute. The bigger universities usually have medical and dental schools, where pay is higher. In the university business, size really matters as well – more students paying fees, and leading to more alumni to tap at fund-raising time; better foundations and endowments; more pulling power for star academics who in turn attract more research funds, but who command higher paycheques. The one way, it appears, that you can get higher pay at smaller universities is to substitute a reputation for size. Mount Allison seems to have done this – full profs make an average of $124,257 a year there.

    On the NB Power debate (although the noun dignifies what has so far been an unedifyingly shrill exchange of emotions rather than sober discussion) the most recent survey of household spending by StatsCan informs us that households in Quebec spent an average of $1000 a year less in 2008 for “water, fuel, and electricity” than New Brunswick households ($1570 vs $2638) and the gap has been widening over time. Water is a small component of household spending, gasoline and heating oil cost about the same in Quebec, if not a bit more, than in New Brunswick, so what accounts for the big difference? You tell me. (The numbers are in StatsCan catalogue 62-202.)

  7. I think its called overtime of wich they work a lot. Cheaper for the corporation to run with OT.

  8. MM, I”ve mentioned this before but the difference is-natural gas. My power rates aren’t much different than my folks. However, the only things I use electricity for are lights, computer, and dryer (though we’re thinking of getting a gas dryer).

    Gas rates right now are at an all time low. We’re paying about half what we paid last year, but in NB, in case people missed it, Enbridge has a nice little monopoly where they are asking for large increases because they are still setting up the infrastructure for gas. And their gas rates are quite high, not in keeping with gas rates elsewhere, and they are claiming they need to recoup laying the pipe right away.

    I suspect Quebec is quite similar, however, electricity in Quebec, thanks to subsidization and cheap hydro, also add to the mix. Unfortunately, NB is ideal for wind and tide, two things that have been ignored til now.

  9. I’m doubtful that the difference is natural gas. Hydro power has been so cheap in PQ that it has reduced the demand for gas in that province. Natural gas prices are highly volatile, whereas hydro power has been more stable in terms of price. Wind power has been quite highly subsidized via feed-in tariffs to date (that is how it has been brought on-stream in PQ and NB); it would tend to raise energy prices to consumers, not lower them. The difference in costs referred to by MM is likely to be mainly due to low hydro rates.

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