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

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nice work

OK, now this is interesting.

Statistics Canada's data on public sector employment very helpfully provides figures on total employment, and total earnings, for a number of classes of public-sector employees.

Taking the total wages, and dividing by the total number of employees, gives you a rough picture of the wage cost per employee. This is not to be confused with the average annual wage of the employees, because Statscan only provides figures on total employment, without distinguishing full-time, part-time, and seasonal or temporary employees. Caveat lector.

Still, with that caveat in mind, let's look at public sector earnings per employee in Newfoundland and Labrador, over the past decade, distinguishing the several classes of public sector workers. These are federal and provincial public servants; workers in the public health-care and post-secondary education systems; employees of municipal governments and school boards, and employees of federal and provincial “business enterprises”, which roughly equals crown corporations.

Here's the graph. (n.b., axes do not cross at zero.)

Notice anything?

Anything stick out?

Between the first quarter of 2002 and the end of 2007, the public-sector wages/employee figure for most classes of public-sector workers rose by about 3% to 4% per annum. This is visible in the graph by the roughly similar slopes of most of the lines. The outliers are for PSE, municipal, and provincial “enterprise” employees.

Between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, the average increase was again about 3% to 4% for most classes, with somewhat more generous rates of increase for federal and provincial public servants, and somewhat stingier ones in PSE and school boards.

But one class of the public sector work force stands out, quite remarkably, in the post-2007 period.

Statscan doesn't break it down, but extraneous data suggest that most employees in the provincial enterprises work for one of three large crown corporations.

All reasonable attempts to explain this trend are welcome.

[Data source: Statistics Canada table 183-0002. Figures used in the graph are trailing four-quarter sum of quarterly total earnings, divided by the four-quarter trailing average employment (seasonally unadjusted) in persons.]



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