Old and redundant blogger shares views on labour force survey

Well, folks the day has arrived.  After almost eight years of blogging about the monthly labour force survey and being one of the few to analyze the data in a slightly more than superficial way, I have been unseated by the young Kurt Peacock (@kurtpeacock) who has been twittering snippets this morning just moments after the release. 

Peacock is the SJ based historian/economic developer/economist/gadfly.

I’ve been replaced by frumpy microbloggers.

For old farts who cling to the old blogging technology, here are a few thoughts on the labour force survey:

After a number of months of decline, the number of NBers employed went up slightly in December.  However, the year over year numbers are showing 2,600 people less working now than at the end of 2009.  While most provinces marched ahead with employment gains, NB remains in decline.

NB’s employment rate (working age people working) edged ahead of NS at 57.8% but still well below most Canadian provinces.  Despite the increasing talk of workforce shortages in NB, we still have relatively high unemployment and a low employment rate.

Back to Kurt, I think this is a good trend – it would be nice to see a bunch of these cats (birds?) tweeting/twittering on these topics.  Expand the reach a bit.

8 thoughts on “Old and redundant blogger shares views on labour force survey

  1. Indeed there is room for both micro bloggers and macro bloggers … just as there is room for monthly LFS snapshots and long-term trend analysis. I enjoy reading your seasoned scrutiny as much as I enjoy @kurtpeacock’s matter-of-fact approach. Don’t stop now!

  2. At the NB Futures summit, there were 3 IT companies that said their biggest barrier to business growth was a lack of employees. This is difficult to understand; young people complain there are no jobs, businesses complain there are no employees and government has poured millions into our colleges and universities (presumably) for educating students.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? Are businesses not offering competitive compensation? Are our educational institutes failing to produce the talent businesses need? Are our young people uninterested in NB employers? Why aren’t normal market demand and supply forces correcting this situation?

    If there is existing demand for these IT jobs and a shortage of supply, it would seem this would be a good opportunity to focus on.

  3. There are a number of issues:
    1. Some firms, even IT firms, can’t afford to pay enough to attract certain classes of workers;
    2. In some areas there is a mismatch between the post-secondary education system and the jobs.
    3. There is still a class of workers – somewhere in the 50,000 – 60,000 range that works in seasonal jobs and either won’t or can’t move into full year work. We don’t discuss this very much but I continue to hear stories from companies telling me that people will work just long enough to get their weeks to qualify for EI. This is almost a cultural or entitlement issue after several generations.
    4. There is still a lack of mobility within NB for jobs – particularly at the lower end of the wage scale. An unemployed person in Tracadie won’t move to Moncton to work at Tim Horton’s. This implicates the seasonal employment issue as well. It makes limited economic sense (personal) to leave a seasonal job paying say $14/hour for 25 weeks, move to another community for a $10/hour job for 50 weeks. The Wage/EI payments under the first scenario are almost as much as the total compensation from the full year work.

    I think we probably should have some kind of report – based on real evidence – on the extent of the problem and proposing solutions. Where are the real roadblocks and what are practical solutions?

  4. He said IT companies, and they certainly aren’t seasonal. I’d like to know which they are, and WHERE they are. There are a few IT companies in NB who are very attached to the public teat and their size varies with how many public contracts they have. And to be brutally honest, while we admit that politicians lie, we also have to admit that business people lie. I’m not saying for sure that that’s a lie, but the fact is that if that is your BIGGEST barrier, then the assumption must be made that you already have lots of clients locked up. And I don’t know ANY worker in this country who wouldn’t move for the right position.

    I’m also highly suspicious of that because I still have friends in NB in IT, who have a fair bit of experience and training, yet still cannot find jobs in their field. And finally, between China, India, and the whole wide world the idea that you can’t find workers is just bizarre. Here at Waterloo one professor is kept very happy by the university because of his chinese connections at bringing over students. So these guys are just not being upfront (there are political reasons for such an answer), need to get on the ball, or else are in very specialized niches which don’t really factor well into public policy decisions anyway.

  5. There are other challenges that are easily glossed over. When we talk about “IT jobs”, the assumption that informs this discussion is that all IT jobs are alike. This is far from accurate. In a past life, in all four Atlantic provinces where we had offices, we had “hard to hire” categories of IT jobs. Oracle DBA specialists, Microsoft MCSDs (certified solution developers, ERP developers, etc. were in short supply everywhere, even though there were a significant number of IT generalists or junior programmers available looking for work. That’s not to say that New Brunswick didn’t have these resources but rather that these resources, by the time they are “hard to hire” were being paid far more in Toronto or Ottawa or Boston than they could be paid in New Brunswick, even by the MNCs. When you have dedicated 4 years to your CS BSc. and four more learning to be an SAP programmer, it makes far more sense to move to where the best jobs are, both in terms of total compensation and what a competitive environment can do for your career and CV. Unfortunately, we lack the critical mass in most IT shops to pay Ontario/US wages. It’s a sticky problem that everyone at IBM, HP, CGI, CSC knows about but we rarely confront here. What would help is investment in development centers (not contact centers) were a critical mass of highly-paid specialists could co-locate. But this would require investment by government, an overarching strategy and the consortium-building capability of small firms. We are not there yet.

  6. That again is why it comes back to education. You need to train a LOT of people in these fields. Again it comes back to technology education in the classroom, where programming is glossed over in favour of using Google to write essays. However, I used to regularly follow the ITJobs website, and those types of jobs were VERY rare.
    It’s worth pointing out as well that many NB IT’s hire based on contracts, most people in IT in NB have worked for several companies. Virtually NOBODY goes through computer science in that way, at some point they are in a co-op program where they have experience with a particular company, and research shows that a high proportion of those people tend to work for the companies they sub with.
    Especially in science I’m familiar with a lot of companies that aren’t pro-active when it comes to hiring. Rather than joining a co op program and training people from a young age up, they choose to look around when the need presents itself, and are critical when nobody has the particular skills the company needs. That’s a general fault, but also a specific fault of companies.
    Companies are now competing globally, I really see no reason why companies in NB who are doing international contracts can’t pay what they pay in Toronto-in fact with the cost of living difference it would be VERY desirable to go to NB, and FatKat was a good example of that. Even the companies that only have NB government contracts get VERY generous terms.

    Unfortunately, virtually NONE of the companies in NB are publicly held companies, so we can really get no sense of WHY they are undervaluing their employees.

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