Our ‘Bloated’ Civil Service

It is common to see in the local press, letters-to-the-editor, or comments on website, references to ‘bloat’ in the size of the civil service in New Brunswick. Civil service ‘bloat’ is often cited as a major cause of NB’s debt and deficit. In response to demand – both from the public (i.e. the voters) and from legal obligations – local and provincial governments have certainly taken on more responsibilities over the past few decades, various social programs and health care being just two examples.

Have we in New Brunswick gone overboard? Is our civil service larger than it should be? The data don’t indicate that, at least not in comparison to other provinces.

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Climate Change in the Maritimes

Trends in surface air temperature from randomly selected stations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are shown below. Data are from Environment Canada homogenized dataset (Adjusted and Homogenized Canadian Climate Data (AHCCD)). Data need to be adjusted to account for relocation of temperature instruments, instrument replacements, changes in time of day at which data are collected, etc. (see Surface Temperature Measurement Reliability).

The temperature data (blue dots) shown are the mean annual temperature for a given year. Probability values (in brackets after the station name) are the Pr values for linear regression analysis. Values less than 0.05 are generally considered to be statistically significant. Linear regressions do not necessarily provide the best fit to the data, but are a simple starting point. In most cases, the scatterplots of the data show the trend clearly enough. All but one station exhibit statistically significant warming over the time period measured.

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Job Creation in New Brunswick vs other Provinces in Canada 2010-2012

In order to put New Brunswick’s job creation (or lack thereof) into perspective, the charts below show job creation (Number of Persons Employed) in selected other provinces, as well as Canada as a whole. All data come from Statistics Canada (Table 282-0054). Data for Canada are the averages of all provinces (Territories excluded). The previous post shows New Brunswick regional data.

Data run from January (JA) to December (DE) for each of the three years. Scroll over the bars to see the actual numbers for that month/year. Note that in both cases, the numbers are three-month rolling averages and are unadjusted for seasonality. By comparing the column heights and numbers for a given month over the three-year period, you can determine the net job creation (or loss) year over year. Those are good indicators as to whether the local economy is growing or not.

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New Brunswick Labour Data 2010-2012

New Brunswick residents are quite used to bad economic news. Typically, New Brunswick and the other Maritime Provinces trail the rest of the country in job creation and income growth. What to do about this situation will be the subject of future posts. This post is designed to illustrate trends in labour force and employment data over the past few years.

Small businesses, which typically provide goods and service to local populations, rely on either a growing labour force or growing incomes to fuel growth (or, at the very least, cover rising labour and supply costs). Unless they can find new markets or unmet needs, most such businesses will struggle in a stagnant economy.

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