15 July 2010

The Fragile Economy: hard numbers

As labradore has been putting it in a series of posts, the provincial public service in the first half of 2010 comprises 53,780 people working directly for the provincial government, the university and public colleges, health care authorities and public school boards.

That works out to 26.2% of the working people of the province.  That’s double the comparable percentage for all 10 provinces.

And here’s the truly unsettling bit:

In the thirty years in which Statistics Canada has measured public sector employment, the percentage of employed people in Newfoundland and Labrador labour force who are employed in the provincial public sector has never been this high.

Those 53,780 comprise 21% of the entire labour force and, once again, that’s the highest this percentage has been in the three decades that Statistics Canada has been measuring public sector employment.

And they make up about 10% of the entire population of the province.

That’s a pretty sharp contrast to the talk in 2004.  As CBC reported, Danny Williams’ first budget forecast a cut of 4,000 public service positions.  By 2005, that planned cut disappeared. The planned cuts have evidently been replaced with a pretty hefty hiring plan.

Now if the private sector had grown at a similar or greater pace, there wouldn’t be so cause for concern.  As the job numbers show, though, the proportion of the labour force employed in the public sector has grown to an amazing level. in some regions of the province – like, say, Grand Falls-Windsor -  the provincial public service is the major employer.

- srbp -