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The inflation of job creation

Posted in BC Votes 2009 Reality Check Posted by CBC News on April 24, 2009 04:28 PM |

Mostly TrueThe Liberal claim that the Campbell government has created more jobs in Canada than any other jurisdiction in the country is Generally True.For years, before the current economic slowdown, going to Alberta was like going to a job fair: signs in front of everything from hotels to hot dog stands screamed things like “$20 an hour” and “flexible schedule.”

So when B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell said not once, but twice, during a radio debate Thursday, that, “we've created more jobs in the province than any other jurisdiction in the country in the last eight years” we at Reality Check thought that was worth a second look.

Sure, B.C.’s economy was red-hot for parts of the eight years Campbell has been in power, but it seemed unlikely to is B.C. had created more jobs than Alberta with its oilsands and a construction boom of their own. We checked the numbers from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. That’s the number that everyone, the politicians and the media, quotes when making claims like Campbell’s.

But that number doesn’t count the number of jobs, it counts the number of people with a job: if you have two or three part-time jobs, you’ll only count as employed once in the Labour Force Survey. Keeping that in mind, the number of people employed in B.C. between 2000 and 2008 increased by 380,000, or 20 per cent.

As our hunch told us, we didn’t create more jobs than Alberta by this measure, as they experienced a 27 per cent growth over the same period.

Since year 2000, B.C. had an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, which dropped to 4.5 per cent by the end of 2008, Gordon Campbell could argue that since B.C. had the fastest decline in the unemployment rate in the country, B.C. must also have created more jobs than anyone else.

Although, that number doesn’t seem to take into account all the other factors that get people into jobs, like changing demographics.

What’s happening so far this year changes the picture dramatically. The unemployment rate currently, according to BC Stats, sits at 7.4 per cent, higher than in year 2000 when Campbell took over. The province lost 60 000 jobs since January, and in March, B.C. lost more jobs in a month than any other province in the country - most were construction jobs, which was the sector most responsible for the employment boom Gordon Campbell has been talking about in the first place.

If you count “the last eight years” to end in December 2008, Campbell’s claim is generally true. What will happen to employment in the province over the next eight years, is anyone’s guess.