When John Baldwin, the StatCan productivity expert, stands before a crowd to talk about productivity, he is always aware that it means two distinct things to people in the audience.
To most, productivity has the connotation of working harder. Soon after the turn of the twentieth century, as assembly lines arrived to produce cars and appliances, productivity became synonymous with hard, tedious work in the popular imagination. Think Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times as the little guy caught in the industrial machine.
Each month, many people pay close attention to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) release, especially economists and journalists. The survey is a snapshot of how many Canadians are working, which is a key indication of the direction of the economy. And, for most Canadians, jobs mean prosperity.
If you look at the ranks of Statistics Canada senior managers, a surprising number are 'lifers'. That is, they have spent the last 20, 25 or 30 years working at the agency. Many retire without working outside the confines of Tunney's Pasture—a former farm field, a short trip from Parliament Hill, where Statistics Canada has been housed since the 1950s.
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