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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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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