The people of Revelstoke are more educated than before, but work patterns haven’t changed a whole lot in the last five years, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
The data, which comes from the National Household Survey conducted in 2011, was compiled by Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development. He provided the Times Review with a table comparing the 2011 statistics to those collected by the 2006 long-form census.
However, he cautioned that the information needs to be taken in context. For one, the NHS was a voluntary survey, unlike the long-form census, which was mandatory.
“I think what tends to happen with voluntary is you don’t get a representative sample,” he said. “It tends to be the better educated people, probably in better jobs that fill it in. You have to be careful when you’re comparing apples.”
Many statisticians have questioned the reliability of the NHS because it was a voluntary survey, unlike the long-form census, which was mandatory. Statistics Canada warned that for more smaller municipalities, the data is less reliable.
The information also needs to reflect the fact the survey was conducted in 2011, said Mason, and therefore it is already two years old.
“Two of our largest industries – forestry and the railway – can fluctuate quite a bit, even within the time of the year,” he said. “What you see in 2011 is not what we have today.”
In terms of education, far fewer Revelstokians over the age of 15 have no high school education (1,090 in 2011 vs. 1,460 in 2006), the number of people with only a high school diploma is down, and many more have some form of post-secondary education. 855 Revelstokians have a university degree or higher, up from 640 in 2006; 1,030 have a trade certificate of diploma, up from 910; and 1,385 have some other form of certificate of diploma, up from 1,190.
Have employment patterns changed much in Revelstoke since 2006? That is harder to ascertain since the data wasn’t collected in exactly the same way in 2011 as it was five years ago.
“They categorized employment differently so what we’ve had to do, what Debra [Wozniak, the special projects coordinator for Community Futures] tried to do – and I think she did a good job – she tried to get the data from 2011 similiar to 2006 as far as the industry sectors go,” said Mason. “There’s a lit bit of guesswork in terms of how we put the job categories together.”
The information, as compiled, shows fewer people are working in the resource sector – 285 in 2011 compared to 315 in 2006. Employment in construction was up by more than 100 (474 vs. 370), which was likely due to major construction projects at the time like the new schools and the Sutton Place Hotel.
Employment in manufacturing was down to 260 in 2011 from 470 in 2006, likely due to a slump in the forestry sector and slowdowns at local mills. Indications are that employment in this sector, especially at Downie Timber, has picked up recently.
Employment in retail is down slightly (415 vs. 440) but far more people listed health care & social services as their sector of employment (510 vs. 345). More people listed finance & real estate as their industry sector (150 vs 110). The number of people working in education remained similar.
The most difficult category to breakdown was business services & public administration. In 2011, the data was collected differently, so Mason and Wozniak lumped together several different categories to get a comparison to the 2006 data. Based on their statistics, the number of people employed in this area remains virtually unchanged, though it is not known how much the fact the categories changed affected the data.
Also new in 2011 is the fact transportation (which in Revelstoke is primarily CP Rail) was its own category. The survey shows 340 people were employed there in 2011.
Accommodation & food services were also broken out into its own category in 2011, with 425 people listing it as their profession.
In 2006, these were likely included in the category “other services,” said Mason.
“It’s not quite apples to apples,” he said. “We’ve done our best to figure it out. I think we’ve done a pretty good job. It wasn’t the same questions and the data might be skewed a little bit because it wasn’t quite mandatory.”