"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Come on back

Tom Marshall, Minister of In-Migration, was so pleased with last week’s press release congratulating the provincial population for growing that it's been top news now on Williams Government's website for a week.

(With Danny having said, at the start of the election campaign, that his government was going to be spending only one percent of its valuable time on the ABC campaign, you’d be forgiven for wondering why nothing else, besides Danny Williams having personally increased the population of the province, has made news now for seven days.)

Anyway... Last week this time, Mr. In-Migration Minister was delighted, claiming on VOCM radio that "people are comin’ back for good payin’ jobs."

Demographic technical discussion alert: There are four factors which determine the population change of any area over any given time. They are births, deaths, in-migration, and out-migration. However, when you are talking about individual age-cohorts of that population, other than a cohort whose lower age limit is birth, there are only three factors — death and the two migrations. Obviously, no one is born age 36. However, over time people do, if they still live in an area, pass out of one age bracket and into another.

Perhaps the good Minister hasn’t bothered to check other stats, supplied by the same agency, Statscan, which provided the good news on the net-inmigration front. Statscan very helpfully breaks down the labour force population into five-year age cohorts. The following graph shows trends in the estimated population of Newfoundland and Labrador, by age, for the past decade. (Children under the age of 15 are not included.) For the purposes of visual cleanliness, the data has been aggregated to reduce the number of series, into age cohorts of ten years starting at age 15, 25, 35, 45, and 55, with everyone 65 and over combined into one big cohort.

Remember, these age cohorts grow through natural aging or through in-migration, and decline through death and out-migration.

So who are all these "people [who] are comin’ back for good payin’ jobs"?

Well, if they are people just starting their post-secondary education and early careers (15-24); or people just hitting their career strides (35-44), if they are comin’ back for good payin’ jobs, then they are still not filling the numerous posts that must be left behind by the vast numbers of healthy young people who must, mathematically, be dying. Both of those cohorts are showing continued decline; and while the younger of those two brackets is showing slower decline of late, the 35-44 bracket has actually seen accellerated decline in the past two or three years.

This, of course, has nothing to do with Danny Williams-Government, which only has jurisdiction over population growth.

Even the later-career bracket of 45-54 year olds has flatlined, and having threatened to start declining, has lately sputtered to at best, or worst, a kind of stasis.

The only real sign of population growth among people still thinking more about their careers than about their retirements is a levelling out, and slight gain, in the 25-34 year bracket.

Populations of the Freedom 55 set and technical senior citizens are continuing to grow, with signs of accelleration, due largely to the "baby boom" working its way through the population pyramid. If any of that population growth is due to in-migration — and there are some other signs that it may be — then those aren’t people [who] are comin’ back for good payin’ jobs. They are people [who] are comin’ back for good payin’ retirements... and, possibly, comin’ back from good payin’ jobs. As noted previously, past bouts of in-migration have tended to be harbingers of recession.


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