Job numbers rose as Yukon economy shrunk

The Yukon's economy has shrunk over the past two years, but the number of jobs has continued to grow.

The Yukon’s economy has shrunk over the past two years, but the number of jobs has continued to grow.

Two of Yukon’s producing mines are shut down, while the third’s operations remain in limbo because it does not have permits in place to access new pockets of ore.

The territory’s economy shrunk both in 2013 and 2014.

The government’s own job statistics, however, tell a slightly more nuanced picture.

On average there were 12,000 private sector jobs (including the self-employed) in the territory in 2014, up from 11,500 in 2013 and 2012. That’s an increase of more than four per cent.

The year-to-date numbers for 2015 are higher compared to the same period for 2014.

The public sector has grown, too, up to 7,800 jobs in 2014 compared with 7,700 in 2013 and 7,400 in 2012.

In the legislature earlier this month, Liberal Leader Sandy Silver pointed to numbers that appeared to show a shrinking private sector and a ballooning public sector.

Comparing the numbers for March 2013 and March 2014, the private sector lost 400 jobs while the public sector gained 500.

“Can the minister explain to us why this so-called private sector-friendly government is only growing jobs in the public sector?” he asked on May 5.

However, the month-to-month data tends to fluctuate fairly widely, and the overall trend for both the private and public sector appears to be job growth.

The ever-growing Yukon government capital budget could help explain this fact.

As Economic Development Minister Stacey Hassard pointed out in response to Silver, when the government spends big money on big projects, a lot of the jobs that are created get counted within the private sector, because they are contracted out.

“I think the member opposite doesn’t seem to realize what this government is trying to do, and I think that you only have to look at the budget that was tabled by the premier just a few short weeks ago,” said Hassard. “It is the largest capital budget in history. Those jobs from those capital projects are going to the private sector.”

Whether the upwards job trend signals a quick rebound for the economy overall remains to be seen.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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