Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be economists

Few of the old-school cowboys that Willie Nelson was singing about would have seen as much horseshit in a lifetime as was delivered by the August Statistics Canada jobs report.

In a nation wherein the PM himself is a self-professed dismal scientist, one might expect a little more clarity than is found in the latest report. According to the national newspaper of record, these are the facts:

  • Canada's private sector lost 111,800 jobs in August
  • eight out of every ten new jobs created in the past year have been part-time
  • 14,000 new government jobs were created in August
  • 86,900 people became "self-employed" in August
  • 20,800 people "left" the labour force
  • the unemployment rate remained unchanged at seven percent.
Who makes this crap up?

So the private sector lost over a hundred thousand jobs but the employment rate is unchanged? Possible only if you fudge numbers and invent new categories of non-employment.

Where were 14,000 new government jobs created in August? Every government at every level from sea to not-so-shining sea is under the gun to slash spending, but they collectively took on 14,000 new hires in a month? Sheer fantasy!

Almost 87,000 Canadians caught the entrepreneurial spirit and launched new businesses in August? Really? I'm guessing quite a few have become independent "foresight strategists" or otherwise bankrupt consultants who rue the day they decided on a humanities degree instead of a welding apprenticeship! 

Maybe one of Todd Hirsch's imaginary unemployed innovators has finally launched that start-up that will revolutionize pizza delivery!

Most people understand the reality behind this nonsense; at least 86,800 of those newly "self-employed" would be delighted to be employed by someone else if there were any jobs.

I am especially intrigued by those 20,000 plus folks who "left" the labour market so they wouldn't have to count as unemployed. What does that mean? Where do these people live? What do they eat? Yes, there are people who chose not to participate in the job market; folks who inherit big bucks and folks who are pushing all their worldly possessions down the street in a stolen shopping cart. The rest of us need to work. 

Harper's spin-meisters were able to pass a 111,000 job loss off as an 11,000 job loss, thanks to all those folks starting their own businesses and leaving the workforce. The next election is a year down the road.

Look for millions more Canadians to leave the job market or become self-employed, and another Harper majority in 2015... unless more folks figure out we're being totally hoodwinked by our economist-in-chief.

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