Mark Twain once observed that there were three kinds of lies in this world … “Lies, damned lies and statistics”.
Over the 40 plus years that I’ve been in the news business, the first or second Friday of each month has seen a time-honoured ritual in this country. Statistics Canada puts out a detailed report on how many Canadians are working, or not working. Financial markets grab the information as soon as it’s available. When lots of new jobs are created, indicating an economy that’s improving, stock prices rise. When the numbers are down, the markets go in the same direction.
The August report concluded that “200 new jobs were created in the month of July in Canada”. Statscan now says there was “an error”, and they promised a revised report. Did they simply leave off a couple of zeros, or might there be something more to this, perhaps something political?
The jobs report is done so frequently, it’s hard to imagine that the number crunchers could make such a mistake. It would have been fascinating to have been a fly on the wall in the office of Finance Minister Joe Oliver when he received the report.
July is most often the strongest month for job growth in Canada. It’s peak time for construction and other outdoor activity that slows down in the winter.
You should know that the jobs report is just a survey. When they say 20,000 new jobs were created in a given month, it’s an ‘estimate’, and it’s subject to all kinds of variables.
A couple of years ago, Harper and company did away with the long form census, even though provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan said it was crucial to calculating things like transfer payments. Might there be a connection?
Perhaps dear old Mark Twain was more on the money than even he realized.
I’m Roger Currie