I listened with great interest to the Mayor's interview on AM 980 this morning. A few points:
1. The Mayor is correct when he points out the StatsCan CMA data is an imperfect guide to what is happening within the legal boundaries of London, since it includes some people who live near London but outside of the city limits. That is true but unfortunately it is the best data we have. Again, I invite the Mayor to present better data if he has it.
I believe it is less of a problem than the Mayor thinks. In 2011 the Statscan CMA data gives a population of 410,000-413,800 (depending on the month) for the London region, while the 2011 Census puts the population of the actual City of London at 366,191. In other words, the CMA includes at most 47,609 people in the London region that do not live within the city limits. As local residents outside of city limits represents at most 11.6% of the CMA population, I do not believe it biases the data enough to have a major impact. Also keep in mind that many people who live in places like Komoka are part of the London labour force since they work in the city or would like to. But, as stated earlier, if the Mayor has better data I would be happy to use that instead.
[Edited to add: I made a fairly elementary error on the population numbers - the 410,000-413,800 figure by StatsCan only includes people over the age of 15 (which is a good reminder - always read the fine print!). The actual figure that includes all ages is significantly higher at 474,786. This means that 22.9%, not 11.6% of London's CMA population lives outside of city boundaries.
Here are the population figures for the London CMA
- London (366,151)
- St. Thomas (37,905)
- Strathroy (20,978)
- Middlesex Centre (16,487)
- Thames Centre (13,000)
- Central Elgin (12,743)
- Southwold (4,494)
- Adelaide-Metcalfe (3,028)
This certainly strengths the Mayor's argument on this point, though, again it is the best data we have and many of the people living outside of London are a part of London's labour force because they commute to London for work. If there are other data sets that are publicly available, please share them!]
2. The Mayor mentioned unemployment as being as high as 12% in London. I am not sure where he is getting this from, as the unemployment rate (again, based on StatsCan data) topped out at 10.9% in July and August of 2009. The last municipal election was on October 27, 2010. In November 2010, the local unemployment rate was at 8.4%, and has declined to 7.9% since then:
(My apologies for the ugly chart - I am using an older computer today with an ancient version of Office).
If employment isn't going up, then how is the unemployment rate going down? Remember, the unemployment rate captures only people who are actively seeking work. It is a very useful statistic, but we need to be mindful of what it measures and what it does not.
3. The labour force participation (LFP) rate tells a useful story here. The labour force participation rate includes people who have jobs or are actively looking. If the LFP rate declines, this indicates that people are leaving the labour force for a variety of reasons (early retirement, going back to school to improve schools, people who have stopped looking for work because they've given up hope, etc.)
Over the last few years the labour force participation rate has steadily declined:
Note that both the unemployment rate and the labour force participation rate declined significantly in 2013. This likely indicates that the unemployed have stopped looking for work, not that the unemployed have found jobs.
As I stated yesterday, there is only so much municipal politicians can do to create employment. We give these guys far too much credit when things are going well and far too much blame when they are not. The data tells a compelling story that the London economy is heavily struggling. It is unfortunate the Mayor has to wear that, given that it almost certainly has nothing to do with him. That being said, no one forced him to make a 10,000 jobs pledge - that was a decision he made on his own.