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Starting in July, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) will ask respondents whether they are a member of a visible minority group. The agency is also working on ways to disaggregate data that it’s already gathered. (Hill Times, Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Data on racialized Canadians’ employment and income is currently only available every five years via the census. So while the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics’ numbers show Black workers have been more likely to lose jobs or income during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their unemployment rate rose last month even as it dropped for their white counterparts, a similar analysis isn’t possible in Canada. As University of Alberta professor Malinda Smith told the Hill Times, broad categories miss the different experiences of Black people from different national backgrounds. The same is true of other “visible minority” groups. You can’t fix what you won’t count.

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Canada’s GDP expanded at an annualized rate of 0.3 per cent, in line with economists’ expectations, according to data gathered by Refinitiv. StatCan said the economy grew by 1.6 per cent across the whole of 2019, down from two per cent the previous year. (The Canadian Press)

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Talking point: The fourth-quarter figures are the worst since the second quarter of 2016, when the economy last contracted. Consumers kept GDP growth going in the fourth quarter, with household spending up two per cent annualized, particularly because of expenses like rent, food services and flights. But exports and business investment dropped significantly by 5.1 per cent and three per cent annualized, respectively. Rail and auto workers’ strikes in Canada and the U.S. contributed to that decline. The first quarter of 2020 seems unlikely to provide better economic news; the parliamentary budget officer said earlier this month that disruptions related to COVID-19 could cut real GDP growth by 0.3 per cent annualized.

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Alternative sources being considered include cellphone, credit and transactional data, as well as satellite imagery, to shore up the more than 350 surveys it conducts. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: The surveys, which collect data on everything from the number of homicides to the price of wool, have been key in taking the pulse of Canadian society and economy. Yet much like polling companies, StatCan has seen declining participation in the exercises, according to the country’s chief statistician, Anil Arora. The country’s privacy commissioner has criticized the agency’s collection of credit data without consent, and a plan to collect banking records.

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The online hub presents data through a gender-based analysis and tracks how Canada is doing in its attempts to meet the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, like eliminating hunger and poverty. (The Logic)

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Talking point: There’s a lot of potentially valuable data here that could both inform policymakers and help businesses. The hub tracks how many businesses in Canada are women-owned, which the government said could help boost women’s participation on boards. It also collates the number of women managers (593,400) compared to those who are men (1,123,900), and the disability instance rate by sex: 24 per cent for women, 20 per cent for men. Much of this is an amalgamation of data Statistics Canada has already collected, but some of it—thanks, in part, to $6.7 million the government allocated for the new hub—is new. Another forthcoming shift Statistics Canada is considering: having a more specific definition of STEM professions, which would improve statistics on which immigrants are coming to Canada for the tech sector.

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The agency will no longer collect personal credit data from TransUnion, anonymize it and use it for statistical analyses. The move follows a campaign from privacy groups, including the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: This is Statistics Canada’s first concrete retreat in the past month or so, despite public calls from the Canadian Bankers Association and the federal Conservative party to get it to collect less financial data on Canadians. Statistics Canada does not get data from Equifax, the other Canadian consumer-credit bureau. The agency also sent a letter to banks, saying it isn’t expecting transaction data from 500,000 Canadians come January, confirming a delay in the process announced a month ago.

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The share of principal applicants among economic-class immigrants who’d previously earned income in Canada rose from 11.5 per cent in 2000 to 59 per cent in 2018, according to a Statistics Canada study released Wednesday. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The agency attributed the shift to the increasing number of temporary foreign workers admitted over the near-two-decade period, and the growing importance within the country’s economic-class immigration system of a federal program that selects for Canadian experience as well as provincial nominee programs. New arrivals are also increasingly drawn from the well-compensated—almost a third of this larger pool in 2018 earned more than $50,000 annually pre-immigration, a 10 percentage point increase from 2000. Canada is increasingly moving toward a “two-step migration system” for economic-class arrivals, University of Waterloo economics professor Mikal Skuterud told The Logic last month, noting that also includes international students who get post-graduate work permits before becoming permanent residents. Domestic work experience is “a very strong predictor of success in the Canadian labor market, if you’ve had some work experience before,” he said.