The wonky math in Tim Hudak's new "I Want To Work" ad

This is the latest ad from the Ontario PC Party, which has built its campaign around what it calls its “Million Jobs Plan”. In short, Hudak believes that if Ontarians can leave the PCs in charge in government for the next eight years, the province will end up with 1 million more net new jobs. Western University economist Mike Moffatt has put that promise in context and, in his judgement, believes that that is an “ambitious — but not impossible — target.”

But in this new ad, Hudak is not talking about the million jobs he will create in 8 years. In this ad, he is standing in the legislature at Queen’s Park and and says: “There are 1 million people out of work.” Now I’m assuming that, as this is being released in the midst of an Ontario general election and he made that comment in the Ontario legislature, we ought to interpret what he said as there are 1 million Ontarians out of work. But that’s just not true.

In April 2014, the month for which we have the most recent data from Statistics Canada, there were 555,600 who described themselves as “unemployed.” (Mind you: There were 1.33 million Canadians out of work. Maybe Hudak was talking but all of Canada, but even then, he’d be underselling the problem by 300,000). Now wait, says my former colleague and now PC Party communications person Jacqui Delaney, what about those who have simply given up?


But Statistics Canada does try to capture those who have “given up” by measuring the size of the work force each month and the labour force participation rate. The work force is equal to all those who have a full-time job, a part-time job plus all those who say they want but do not have any kind of job. In other words, work force = employed + unemployed. If the size of the work force shrinks by 1 per cent but the population remains table, you could conclude that some and perhaps all of that 1 per cent had given up looking for work and left the “work force.” (Even though some may have retired, gone back to school, decided to stay at home to raise their kids or died.)

Well, in Ontario, the labour force grown whether you measure the last 12 months or measure from the time of the last provincial election in Sept. 2012. In the last 12 months, Ontario’s work force is bigger by 115,000  and since October 2011 bigger by 165,00!  So if Hudak is including all those “who have given up” in addition to those who StatsCan says are unemployed, well, we’re in a pickle here because 165,000 have given up “giving up” and jumped into the work force.

Okay, say my Twitter followers who are cheering for Tim Hudak, what about all those Ontarians who left the province because they couldn’t find work? Well, Statscan tracks those people too. (Table 051-0017 if you want to look it up) as I tweeted:


So we could add the unemployed (550,600)  plus “left the province” (13,039) and we get 563,639  in the most broadest definition of “out of work.” But even that’s no way close to “1 million out of work.”

Some PC supporters think I’m being too tough on the PCs by pointing out their wonky math here.



Here’s some other random notes on what I’ll call the “Jobs Record” for the 31 months that the McGuinty-Wynne government, (elected in October 2011) existed.

  • Ontario’s population grew in that time by 345,900 people or 3.2 per cent.
  • Ontario’s labour force grew by 165,000 or 2.3%.
  • Total number of jobs grew by 189,800 or 2.9%.
  • Full-time jobs grew by 206,900 or 3.9%.
  • Part-time jobs decreased by 17,100 or 1.3%.
  • The number of unemployed people dropped by 24,800 or 4.1 per cent.
  • The unemployment rate in Sept. 2012 was 7.7%. Today it’s 7.4%
  • The labour force participation rate dropped from 66.5% to 66.1 % today, the same as the national labour force participation rate.
  • There are 203,000 more private sector workers than October 2011.
  • There are 19,800 fewer public sector workers (public sector could mean municipal, provincial or federal employee here).
  • There are 12,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in Ontario.

Source for all the data here? Statistics Canada. The calculations and errors, on the other hand, are all mine.

8 thoughts on “The wonky math in Tim Hudak's new "I Want To Work" ad”

  1. What a biased ad the PCs put in. All of those people shown were in the manufacturing sector. What about people in the information and technology sector, where jobs should be created?

  2. Typo: If the size of the work force shrinks by 1 per cent but the population remains table,

    Perhaps you meant stable?

  3. I checked the Statscan Table 051-0017. Where does it include the thousands of construction workers that continue to live in Ontario (their wives and children remain here, so there is no address change) but they have to find work out west and return home periodically.

  4. Good explanation here. Hudak’s numbers look a lot more accurate than yours when factoring everything in. I know everyone in the media is looking for that gotcha moment to discredit Hudak, but come on man, it took me less than a minute using Google to find this. You know it’s funny, the federal opposition parties and media bring this up to bash Harper’s job numbers, than ignore it to bash Hudak:

    Statistics Canada measures unemployment in a very specific way, asking a representative sample of Canadians if they did anything during a four-week period to look for a job.

    If you are not actively looking, then you are not considered unemployed.

    Incorporating those who are not looking for work, but certainly want a job, into the calculations—those who are waiting for a recall from a previous employer or waiting for a reply to applications already made; those who have given up looking for jobs because they believe none are available; and those who are working part-time but want and can’t get more hours of work—leads to a much higher unemployment rate.

    According to official calculations the average monthly unemployment rate during 2011 was 7.4%, but the more comprehensive measure implies 10.6%.

    The official rate understates the waste of human resources, but it also doesn’t tell us about the hardship being experienced.

    The great thing here is that article is using the 7.4% Statscan unemployment figure, which it currentl is in Ontario. So the real number in Ontario is around 10.5%.

    1. The hazard of Google is that people use it to find something that substantiates their existing decisions and opinions, instead of using it to adequately research a topic before making a decision or forming rigid opinions.

      StatsCan’s unemployment calculations and figures essentially focus on counting truly unemployed people: people who are unemployed and need (rather than want) a job.

      People who actually need a job to support themselves and their families don’t give up searching. They will look for positions outside of their career experience if necessary. Those people who are able to give up looking for a job while waiting for the economy to improve or a employer to recall them, have some other means (perhaps meagre) of supporting themselves. They don’t NEED a job. And while many people are unhappy with their current jobs for various reasons (part time hours, lack of benefits, no career path, boss from hell…) and so are looking for a better job, they are currently employed.

  5. What about hydro??? Never mind trying to get government handouts! That’s if you qualify, Is he still going to get rid of delivery charges?

  6. What the 10.5% figure seems to measure is a combination of unemployed and under employed. A better measure of that might be family incomes that have decreased over that period – I know of several people let go that are employed now, but at 1/2 the salary they were making.

  7. Mr. Hudak claims he will resign if he does not achieve the one million jobs. This seems to me a safe bet since he will have 8 years to do that. I like that kind of job security he is creating for himself. Just like a politician to give us the gears.

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