30 June 2016

Interprovincial migration for morons #nlpoli

Some people got really excited on Wednesday by a report from the Fraser Institute that claimed this province had seen its first population loss due to outmigration in a decade.

There ya go, they cried:  proof the budget sucks and is driving people out of the province.

Well,  err... no.

Population change consists of four things:

If you want to look at all migration, you can see there have been plenty of years of net out-migration. Here's a table compiled in 2014 by the always prickly Known Critic at labradore
  • births,
  • deaths,
  • in-migration, and,
  • out-migration.
What the Fraser Institute report looked at was a very specific sub-set of migration, namely movement among the provinces.  Right away,  you see they were looking at a bit of a bigger picture.

Fraser drew data from a specific Statistics Canada table (CANSIM 051-0012).  Oh dear, all the Liberal-hating folks are out of luck on this one.  The data ends in 2014-2015, in other words before the Liberals even took office.  

Ouchie.  That's gotta hurt.

Hang on.  It gets better. Look at the data as Statistics Canada reported it.

From 2003 to 2014,  the years for which we have data,  there were only five years of net positive interprovincial migration.  In one year it was a wash.  

In the other years,  we had net out-migration and in the first four Conservative years the net interprovincial out-migration was savage.  

Key thing:  over the past decade, we have had more than one year of net out-migration and it wasn't just the most recent year.

Second key thing:  in the most recent year for which we have data - that is for the last year of Conservative rule - we saw a very familiar pattern.  The people heading out of the province were between 15 and 44 years of age.  There was a small net in-migration of folks between 44 and 64 and then over 65 years of age,  they were heading to the mainland again.

Maybe the problem here is that VOCM news writers can't do math. The headline says first drop in a decade, but in the body of the story, they correctly identify the dates:  drop in 2015 is the first since 2007. A decade earlier would have been 2005 and as you can see from the table, there were a few years in there where more people left than came in.

There's more.  Take a look at this table compiled in 2014 by the always prickly KNown Critic at labradore. SRBP used it in a post about demographics when the Old Man had some problems understanding the numbers.

This table looks at migration generally, not just between provinces. In periods where the red line is above the green line,  then you had net out-migration.  

It's pretty clear that the province experienced net out-migration more often than not.  And as the prickly fellow noted in 2014,  the population of the province jumped up around the time of the last recession in 2008 to 2009.  As we can see from the more recent numbers,  the net in-migration tailed off quite rapidly and as we can see from the more recent figures,  we were back in the negative migration (more people leaving than coming) by 2014.

Now there's a take  on things that doesn't fit the conventional interpretation but then again, the popular image is out of whack with what has actually been going on in the province.  Now that is par for the course.