Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Culture Release Not Quite As Advertised

Communities, Culture, and Heritage Minister Tony Ince put out a press release today saying jobs in the culture sector have increased in Nova Scotia. This was based on a Statistics Canada release today updating their report with 2013 - 2014 data. You can read Minister Ince's release here or see it below)

It's not clear to me whether this release was put out in error or whether it was just hoped no one would notice that the release, while technically accurate, was a misleading in terms of the trend. The peculiar thing about this release is if you actually follow the link given in the release, the new Statistics Canada data is for 2013 to 2014 not 2010 to 2014. The new data shows a decrease in jobs from 2013 to 2014.

Check it out yourself. From the link in the release (click here) you can choose culture or sport. You can read the direct link for culture here. But here's a screen shot.

Rather than showing an increase in culture related jobs in Nova Scotia, the data actually shows a decrease of 1.8% (or a loss of about 250 jobs). Yes, the share of the provincial economy has gone up, however this period reflected the slow down in major employers such as pulp and paper so the share of the economy would have to increase somewhat. The GDP contribution for cultural industries in Nova Scotia did go up by 2.1%, however, you have to consider that Statistics Canada said inflation from 2013 to 2014 (the same period) was 2%. So the net increase in dollar value is 0.1%. You can see Statistics Canada's data on inflation here.

The release is entirely accurate when it says that jobs increased from 2010 to 2014. But the new data from Statistics Canada is not for 2010 to 2014, but 2013 to 2014 which shows a decrease in jobs.In fact, to pull together the data for the longer period, department staff would have had to go beyond the data released by Statistics Canada today, and look at the older data.

Frankly, its not clear why the department put out the release in the first place, because if you were looking for political arguments, the data shows that culture sector jobs increased when the NDP were in power and decreased in the first year of the Liberal government. I have no idea why the Liberal government would want to flag that for people, especially given that this puts in place a benchmark for jobs and GDP value before the changes to the Film Tax Credit took effect.

I asked about this issue in question period today, but as usual there was no answer, and the Minister spent his time thanking anyone he could think about - though, oddly, he left out film in his list of cultural industries.