Halifax Unemployment Data, 2006 Census

This weekend I projected unemployment data from the 2006 Census onto a map of Halifax.  I won’t say much about this topic because its subject matter lies well beyond my area of expertise; although I’m willing to make broad assumptions about population growth, I don’t want to speak too much about employment numbers lest some one quotes me on it.  (I see you in my site statistics, all you high school and jr. high kids logging in from ednet.ns.ca addresses – remember to click to the census data and cite them for your projects!)

Halifax unemployment data, 2006 census

First, some observations on the projection.  The unemployment figures for Halifax’s 88 Census Tracts ranged from 2.1% in Fairview (Tract 205.0017.00, south of Hwy 102 and north of the St. Margaret’s Bay Road) to 12.8% in Shannon Park (Tract 205.0112.00, south of the MacKay Bridge at Windmill Road), with the city’s average unemployment rate at 6.3%. This is a 10.7% spread, which I’ve separated into 5 fields with a 3% spread in each.  By showing 5 different unemployment rate groups, this spread gives a sharp level of detail, but on the other hand it creates a patchwork-quilt of colors with few discernible patterns.  Projecting data requires balancing data against visuals – if the data is not represented properly, then patterns may not emerge, or the patterns that do emerge may be misleading altogether.  Be sure, therefore, to click through to the original data files for each tract (links are provided on the tract’s data boxes).

[flexiblemap src=”http://michael.steeleworthy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/20100208_Halifax_Unemployment_Data_2006_Census.kml” width=”700″ height=”400″]

And now, some observations on this map against others.  Thus far I’ve noted how Timberlea and the Sackvilles tend to stand out on census maps.  Both areas saw a significant decrease in population from 2001 to 2006, and my recent population density map shows that both areas are denser than their surrounding (more-)rural neighbours thanks to the network of highways spidering out from the peninsula.  What today’s map highlights is that both areas’ population decreases are mirrored by higher unemployment rates.  The areas may have a denser population than their surrounding census tracts, but people seem to be leaving (possibly to find work elsewhere?).

Base figures:

Population of Halifax in 2006: 372858
Labour force [persons ages 15+]: 309270
Unemployed persons in labour force: 13385
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%

Population of Nova Scotia in 2006: 913462
Labour force [persons ages 15+]: 756595
Unemployed persons in labour force: 43530
Unemployment Rate: 9.1%

Halifax maps – 2006 population per census tract

Given the fact that I am working with data from the 2006 Census Tracts, I decided it would be important to begin by plotting a map that shows the population of Halifax Regional Municipality per census tract (CT).


What’s important to understand when looking at this map is that these are representations of just whole numbers – we’re not looking at a population rate of decline or density.  StatCan’s census tracts, rather, are developed by a set of guidelines that take in account more than only population rates.  Boundaries should follow easily recognizably physical boundaries or major arteries and have populations between 2500 and 8000 (ideally around 4000); the areas must be as compact as possible; and the populations should ideally be homogeneous in terms of socio-economic conditions (source).  Therefore, CTs with lower populations on Halifax Peninsula are more likely indicative of latent socio-economic factors that promote lower densities that any sort of StatCan motive to consider these tracts as demanding special attention.

My next map, I think, will demonstrate density or growth rates.  There was upwards of an 11% population growth rate in the Clayton Park area between 2001 and 2006, but the area’s surround census tracts didn’t see nearly as large an increase – that might be interesting to demonstrate on a map.

Finally, if there is a lesson to be learned on the production of this map, it’s to avoid using a blue gradient for HRM since it blends so easily with the shoreline and ocean.  My next colours will be bolder, for sure.

StatCan and Canadian Aboriginal Incarceration Rates

On 6 August 2009, Donald Marshall, Jr passed away. Marshall, a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, was wrongfully charged and convicted in the death of Sandy Seale in 1971.  Although an appeals court overturned the decision in 1983, the presiding judge nonetheless argued that Marshall himself was partly to blame for the conviction. If that’s not the greatest example of systemic racism and of passing the buck, then I don’t know what is.

The eulogies that have since been said for Marshall got me thinking about the prejudices that First Nations people face in the Canadian justice system and in society at large.  Although I’ve always understood that our justice system has never been kind to the First Nations and that the number of aboriginal peoples in correctional institutions are not at all proportionate to their numbers within the general population, I didn’t have a real sense of the problem because I’ve never actually looked at the incarceration rates. So this weekend I logged into Statistic Canada’s E-Stat database to see what the numbers really are.  I first pulled up census data from 1996, 2001, and 2006, all of which are available electronically and asked the general population in a simple question if they self-identified as First Nations in order to get a general sense of the aboriginal population of Canada.  Then I analyzed CANSIM Tables 251-0001, 251-0002, and 251-0012 to cross-reference the national aboriginal population against the the aboriginal prison population.

The findings,  attached as a PDF (click to view), are startling.  On the whole, national aboriginal incarceration rates for 2006 (i.e., at the last census) are nearly 6 1/2 times higher than the aboriginal population as a percentage of the national population:

In 2006, 1,172,785 Canadians self-identified as Aboriginal, or 3.71% of our population of 31,612,897.

Also in 2006, 24% of the 90051 Canadians who were admitted to a custodial sentence self-identified as aboriginal.

(Source: 2006 Census Data; CANSIM Table No. 251-0001: Adult correctional services, admissions to provincial, territorial and federal programs, annual)

The numbers aren’t pretty.  Although StatCan‘s data doesn’t track back to 1971 – the time of Marshall’s conviction – over 25+ years of data shows that the aboriginal incarceration rate has increased steadily.  In 1983, when the Marshall conviction was overturned, 13% of the prison population was aboriginal; since 2001 it has has rested at over 15%, and since 2004 over 20% of the prison population has self-identified as aboriginal.

The same spikes are evident at the youth criminal justice level, as well.  Some incarceration rates at the youth level have increased by over 10% in ten years:

  • In 1998/99: 13.01 % of all youth who were admitted into correctional services self-identified as aboriginal.
    • In 2008/09, 17.9% self-identify as aboriginal.
  • In 1998/99, 14.52% of all youth who were admitted into secure custody self-identified as aboriginal.
    • In 2008/09, 23.57% self-identify as aboriginal.
  • In 1998/99, 15.2% of all youth who were admitted into open custody self-identified as aboriginal.
    • In 2008/09, 27.73% self-identify as aboriginal.
  • (Source: CANSIM Table 251-0012 – Youth custody and community services (YCCS), admissions to correctional services, by sex and aboriginal identity, annual)

There is more data found in the spreadsheet, including a tracking of these national youth criminal justice and adult criminal justice rates on an annual basis.  I’ve also listed the rates for Nova Scotia, Marshall’s home province, but many of these provincial numbers might be unreliable because of the small size of the Nova Scotian population, which results in spikes from one year to another.  Regardless, the patterns that do emerge from the wider national data highly suggest that First Nations peoples have not been given a fair shake by either the justice system or our social structures.

Consult Statistics Canada and the Federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.  StatCan, I only noticed a few hours before publishing this post, recently published a lengthy analysis, “The incarceration of Aboriginal people in adult correctional services” in Juristat 29(3), July 2009, StatCan Catalogue No. 85-002-X.  This 26-page document is a free download for anyone looking to do serious work with the data.