Job vacancy data a mess; Statistics Canada needs more money

According to a Globe and Mail article, the Conservative government has had to sharply revise its job vacancy numbers after dropping data based on  anonymous postings on sites such as Kijiji. The Kijiji posts included overcounting due to the same job being reposted in multiple areas of the site. After the revision, the official vacancy rate fell from 4% to 1.5%.

The Globe and Mail noted that “the solution would be to give Statistics Canada more money to improve its research on job vacancies, which are based on surveys of employers.”

Thanks to Wendy Watkins for posting this to the CAPDU list!

National Household Survey and data supression

Statistics Canada has started releasing data from the National Household Survey (the infamous Census long form replacement), along with some information about what they won’t be releasing. This release includes data on Aboriginal Peoples and on Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity.

Data was suppressed for areas with less than a 50% response rate. No data at the neighbourhood (census tract and census dissemination area) level has been released yet, but there is a list of Census subdivisions (towns) that are being suppressed.  Some of these have populations in excess of 2500, about the size of a census tract (and much larger than a dissemination area), making me wonder how many holes will be in the neighbourhood data and even if they will release it at all.

Here’s the list of suppressed towns:

Update: a researcher tells me that contacts at Statistics Canada have told him that dissemination area data will be available “at least as a custom tabulation.” Hmm.

Update #2: Tracey Lauriault at has a nice summation of news stories on and reactions to the NHS release, including some very cogent criticisms.

Well, we all knew it could be bad. Now we’re seeing how bad.

Ending Longitudinal Analysis in Canada?

Among the most disturbing – and difficult to remedy – of the data collection program losses from Statistics Canada is the termination of all of our existing longitudinal surveys.

That’s decades worth of cumulative data that will no longer be followed up on.

The surveys are being replaced by a single new survey, the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults, which will at least help fill the gap left by the SLID, if not the others.

Longitudinal data is data that follows individuals over time; it is prized by researchers because it makes it much easier to show causation. In fact, according to some librarians I was discussing the topic with a couple of weeks ago, it is now difficult to get many types of survey research published in the better sociology, medical and economics journals unless longitudinal data is used.

Adding to the loss is the fact that the NLSCY and the YITS were the only major Canadian social surveys targeting children and younger adults. Want to know how children are developing in Canada? Well… can I interest you in some Australian data instead? How about Danish? Swedish? American?

Survey of Household Spending

In February it was mentioned on a Statistics Canada email list that no public use microdata files will be produced for the 2010 and 2011 Survey of Household Spending, “due to resource constraints”.  The Survey of Household Spending is an important resource for social and economic researchers – seeing what families actually need to spend to live in different parts of Canada is important for social policy, among other things.

I’m personally going to be stuck without this one – it’s a favourite for showing finance and economics students the utility of microdata, for getting them into quantitative research.  Determined faculty and grad students with lots of time on their hands can still access master files in the Research Data Centres, of course, but that’s a far more inconvenient option, and lacking the pumf makes it more difficult to plan their research. It’s as if there was some sort of intent to make social policy research as difficult as possible…

Statistics Canada: the cuts continue…

This page at the Statistics Canada web site outlines the “program adjustments” being made from 2012-13 to 2014-15 to deal with continued budget cuts. Highlights/lowlights include the disappearance of a number of agricultural programs, several energy, transport and utility surveys (oil pipelines, anyone?), the University and College Academic Staff Survey, longitudinal data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, the Residential Care Facilities survey, and a number of others.

More surveys cut

The Canadian Press has reported that due to more cutbacks, Statistics Canada will be eliminating 5 surveys. Two are environmental surveys and pilot projects, the Industrial Pollutant Release Survey and the Quarterly Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Survey. The long-running National Population Health Survey and two business surveys, the Survey of the Suppliers of Business Financing and the Survey on Financing of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises are also under the guillotine.