How do we measure a politician's job record?

Today on the campaign trail, New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant was talking about his job creation plan and hammering the government of incumbent Progressive Conservative Premier David Alward government because it “it lost 3,900 jobs since October 2010, lost, more specifically, 6,500 full-time jobs.”

That phrase “since October 2010” is an important qualifier but, in my view, an odd one as he and anyone else should be measuring the Alward government’s job performance record from September 2010, the month in which Alward was elected premier. In fact, as I point out in this review of the Alward government’s jobs record, the record is even worse if you start from September 2010 rather than October 2010.

So why September and not October?

Well, the Alward government was elected on September 27, 2010. If you woke up the next morning and asked, well, how many people have a job on day one of Alward’s government, you would turn to Statistics Canada and its labour force survey. Had you done that, on September 28, 2010, Statistics Canada would have told you to wait until October 8, 2010 when it released its September 2010 labour force survey.

So, on October 8, 2010 you would be able to say that, according to the September Labour Force Survey, there were 354,200 people with a job in New Brunswick in the month that Alward was elected. So that (and all the other data bits in the September 2010 Labour Force Survey) becomes the starting point for all the counting we will do against the Alward government. We start at 354,200.

Gallant and the New Brunswick Liberals, though, begin the count the next month, in October, using data published by Statistics Canada on November 5, 2010. On Nov, 5, Statistics Canada said that, in October, 353,300 had a job in New Brunswick.

By my reasoning, Alward’s first month on the job resulted in 900 job losses. But if you count the way the NB Liberals are counting, no politician is responsible for those 900 job losses. It’s that or former Liberal Premier Shawn Graham is responsible for them. But that would be unfair to Graham. His record would have ceased with September’s Labour Force Survey (published on October 8 2010). Interestingly, Graham finished his four years with an extra 7,900 jobs in the province, an increase of 23% over four years and yet — voters turfed him.

Similarly, if Gallant becomes premier after the vote on September 22, the numbers in the September 2014 Labour Force Survey (to be published Octo. 3 2014) will be his starting point as we begin to measure his job creation record.



One thought on “How do we measure a politician's job record?”

  1. David, why don’t we take this a step further and ask how we measure the performance of any job – and in this case politicians.

    Pay for performance would be tough to sort out, wouldn’t it?

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