30 September 2009

Population and the economy

labradore may do more of his own with this, but in the meantime, it’s useful to steal his observations on the most recent quarterly population statistics.

He left them at Townie Bastard’s corner. Some people, including local media, took the wrong perspective which is not surprising since the StatsCan release wasn’t very clear on what’s been happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Anyway, here’s Wally’s take on things. Bear in mind he accurately predicted a recession in 2008 by noting the sudden change in in-migration and hence in population that took place in mid-2007:

The population bump from in-migration happens during every recession.

Out-migration hasn't really slowed down. Actually, it hasn't slowed down at all. International migration is stable at best; the last two quarters have been slightly worse for international immigration than the same time last year.
And the imbalance of deaths over births is trending in death's favour. This was the third consecutive quarter of natural population decline (more deaths than births). Six of the last seven, and eight of the past eleven quarters have seen negative natural population change. One more quarter, and there'll have been a full year of it - the first time for any province, I believe.

The only thing that's causing population growth is net in-migration, largely driven by people moving in from Alberta and Ontario.

Two guesses as to what's driving that. First doesn't count.

Now anyone who looks at the release and stopped for a second might have noticed that the increase was only about one quarter of one percent. And if that person had clicked back to the release before, he or she might have noticed the previous quarter where population declined in Newfoundland and Labrador.

But those wider points – about persistent out-migration and the deaths/births ratio – require a level of analysis that reporters just don’t have time to do.

Sadly for the reporting world, that’s where the real story sits.

You can find it over at labradore.


Predictable Update: You won't find the real story in a provincial government news release, as Jerome!'s effort Wednesday morning confirms.