12 March 2012

Dundernomics 101: Public Sector Employment Numbers #nlpoli

In an interview with CBC’s David Cochrane, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said that the public service has grown by more than 2,100 jobs in the past eight years and that total employment in the public service is about 9,000.

Well, not exactly.  That depends on what you consider to be public sector and “public service”.

As labradore noted last July, the entire public service sector in this province – federal, provincial, municipal and Crown corporations accounts for was more than that.

The growth in public sector employment alone 11,500 between 2006 and 2011.

If you look at figures for 2010, the totals are way more than what the Premier talked about:

In the first quarter of 2010, approximately 53,780 people in Newfoundland and Labrador worked in some portion of the provincial public sector: 11,550 in the provincial civil service, 20,400 in public health-care and social services establishments, 10,900 at Memorial University and the public colleges, and 10,930 employed by the various public school boards.*

Even if we allow that the Premier defined “public service” pretty narrowly in 2012,  you can see that in early 2010 there were 2,500 more people working in the public service,  that is, just working directly for the provincial government than the Premier currently claims work for government in total.

And yes, that is way more than the 2,100 jobs the Premier claims she and her colleagues added – in total – since 2003.


Well, obviously the Premier is.

And if she doesn’t understand what is going on now and what has gone on in the recent past – stuff she actually lived through and decided already – then it is going to be very hard for her to understand whatever the current review comes up with.

Confusion about the basics also explains why the Premier could claim that 3% of what she herself has called almost $8.0 billion in public sector spending is about $100 million.

Three percent would be $240 million.

Two percent would be $160 million.

One point two five percent (that is 1.25%) comes out to $100 million.  And for anyone who is still unsure, 1.25% is closer to one percent than it is to two percent.

All those jobs come at a price.  Here’s another pretty chart from labradore to give you a sense of what those payroll costs are:

The figures are for early 2011 and the total bill hits about $2.65 billion.

None of that is about whether the jobs are needed or not, whether the people do good work, what the impact of any cuts would be or anything else related to it. 

This is just to establish so everyone can plainly see that what the Premier said everywhere last week on several occasions and what is actually going on are two completely different things.

To her credit, the Premier acknowledged in one interview that she had frigged up her explanations of things last week.

But that was before she told David Cochrane that temporary employees could be getting the heave-ho in order to meet her  targets.

That likely isn’t correct either, by the way.

So as we start the week, expect that the most common noise you will hear will be the gigantic garbage truck of government communications beep-beep-beeping as it backs up  - yet again - and tries to move forward  - yet again - again without turning the same information into road kill for the third or fourth time in the past seven days.

– srbp -