Finance minister Jerome Kennedy is supposed to know about the economy and stuff.
During an interview with CBC provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane for On Point, Kennedy said that in the 1990s the government was the main employer in the province. The implication was that the public sector wasn’t what it used to be. People laid off from the public service could find work much more easily in the private sector as a result.
Statistics Canada CANSIM table 282-0008 records employment in each province in each industrial group.
Let’s call education, health and public administration the three categories that give us the public sector in this province. We’ll pick up some private sector employees in there, especially in education, and we’ll also grab some federal employees but we should get a fairly accurate comparison of one year to the next.
In 1993, those three categories accounted for 32% of the labour force.
In 2012, those three categories accounted for 32% of the labour force.
The total labour force grew 18% in that time, besides. Those three categories – that we are calling the public sector - grew 21%.
The biggest growth has been in the construction industry. It had almost 20,000 employees in 2012 or 8.5% of the labour force. That’s compared to compared to 10,100 in 1993, or 5% of the labour force.
Clearly, Jerome’s impression of what has been going on in the province and what has actually gone on over the past couple of decades are two different things.