Yukonomist: Yukon economic summer quiz

Quiz yourself and your friends on some surprising factoids from the Yukon Economic Summer Quiz


Need a new conversation topic other than the sunny weather or the bugs? Are your friends tired of playing “Name that Tree!” and other Yukon games as you lounge on the deck?

Then you may enjoy Yukon Economic Summer Quiz. As long as your friends haven’t already perused the latest Yukon Monthly Statistical Review and memorized the answers.

The Review packs some surprises, especially as it’s hard to know what to expect a year and half into a global pandemic.

Get out your pencil and start scoring now.

Question 1: If the Yukon’s population continues to grow at the same pace it did in 2020, in what year will the Yukon’s population hit 50,000 people?

Our population grew at 2.5 per cent in 2020, almost three times the national average. Since we had 42,827 people at the end of 2020, the answer is that it will be early 2027 when we cross the 50,000 mark if that growth rate continues.

That is a lot sooner than I had in mind before I did the math. The old joke that the entire population of the Yukon would fit in B.C. Place won’t be true too much longer.

It also means that, ignoring local births and deaths, there are at least 7,173 people out there somewhere who will be Yukoners in 2027 who don’t know it yet.

If they want to get a campsite or a house, they should probably come sooner rather than later.

Question 2: Of the 1,062 new Yukoners in 2020, what percentage of them live in Whitehorse?

The answer is 88 per cent. It’s as if two Mayos worth of people moved to the capital city. The population of all other communities in the Yukon went up by just 125 people.

Question 3: Which economic sector had the highest average weekly earnings in 2020?

If you said “government,” give yourself a quarter point. For a full point, do you know which level of government?

Was it Aboriginal public administration at $1,027 per week? Perhaps territorial public administration at $1,726 per week?

No, the winner is federal public administration at $1,848 per week.

Construction was the highest non-government sector, at $1,316 per week.

Question 4: How many times higher was the average weekly wage in federal public administration than the equivalent figure for the lowest paid sector?

The answer is 3.6 times. Restaurant workers earned $510 per week on average.

Many might have guessed retail. That pays $767 per week. Federal public administration is 2.4 times higher.

In case your audience is getting bored with econometrics, here’s a non-economic question.

Question 5: What is the least popular month for Yukoners to get married?

The answer is April, with just three marriages, compared to 24 in August.

This surprised me. Don’t people know you can just crop April’s frozen mud puddles and brown lawns out of the wedding photos?

Question 6: Getting back to econometrics, which province or territory had the highest employment rate in Canada for 59 of the last 60 months?

That’s employment rate, not unemployment rate. It means the percentage of the workforce aged 15 years and older who have jobs.

The answer is the Yukon. The N.W.T. pipped us in May 2021, but other than that the Yukon has led the Canadian league tables on employment.

A bonus discussion topic for your group: is this because our economy is awesome, or because rent is so expensive no one can afford to live here unless they have a job?

Question 7: How much more does food cost in Whitehorse compared to B.C. and Alberta?

The answer, based on a comparison of 15 common foods, is 12.4 per cent higher than BC and 12.1 per cent higher than Alberta.

Interestingly, while most foods were around 10 per cent more expensive, bacon and potatoes were both 42 per cent costlier in Whitehorse than in B.C. On the other hand, eggs in Whitehorse were reported to be 11 per cent cheaper.

Question 8: How much more does food cost in Dawson City compared to Whitehorse?

The answer varies. Meat, fish and seafood are seven per cent more expensive in Dawson. Bread and cereal are 56 per cent more expensive. The overall cost of living, including household operations, fuel, cigarettes and similar items, is 21 per cent higher.

Question 9: What did the average single-family home sell for in the first quarter of this year? Round your answer to the nearest $25,000 to make it easier.

The answer is $600,000, rounded up from $590,700.

Only four years ago, the average for such houses was just over $400,000. People who owned homes during that period have made a solid profit, while those looking to enter the market now face eye-watering prices.

Question 10: No Yukon quiz would be complete without asking the price of gold. Round your answer to the nearest $25 per ounce, in U.S. dollars.

As of earlier this week, the territory’s favourite metal was trading just above US$1,750 per ounce. That’s down slightly from a year ago, but solidly up from five years ago.

How did you score out of 10? If you crushed your friends on the economic policy front, there are currently two assistant deputy minister jobs open at the territorial government. If you scored poorly, you can continue enjoying that fine weather on your deck.

Keith Halliday is a Yukon economist and author of the MacBride Museum’s Aurore of the Yukon series of historical children’s adventure novels. He is a Ma Murray award-winner for best columnist and received the bronze for Outstanding Columnist in the 2019 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.