The 2016 Christmas Price Index is out
Each year, PNC releases an updated Christmas Price Index (CPI)
that calculates the actual cost of the gifts mentioned in the classic holiday song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This annual tradition provides a fun, festive way for people to learn about the economy.
Consumer Price Index, which measures the changing cost of goods and services annually, the CPI offers insight into consumer spending and economic trends, telling us how much inflation has grown or shrunk, for example, through the years.
This year’s total Christmas Price Index is $34,363.49, an increase over 2015 of 0.7%. A steady rate of inflation has been evident over the past four years. Since the CPI's launch in 1984, the total cost has increased 82% from $18,845.97.
Two main reasons have driven this increase. The first is the fact that goods can be purchased online, which increases
prices. Rebekah McCahan, the creator of The True Cost of Christmas, affirms
that online shopping has affected the way that various items are priced. In general, the internet has made items on the list more costly than before. Goods that are purchased online are often more expensive than those purchased in-store. This is because of shipping and handling costs becoming an additional expense.
The second reason is that federal laws have increased the minimum wage, making service charges higher through the years.
Despite price fluctuations, retailers have managed to maintain the prices of gold rings, geese, calling birds, and French hens in 2016. Pipers piping and drummers drumming are both more costly items on the list this year due to wage inflation and increased pay. Wages for both civilian and private industry workers have
increased by 2.3%
as of September 2016. Maids-a-milking, $58, is the cheapest entry on the list, as a result of the national minimum wage which has not changed since 2009.
For more information about PNC’s Christmas Price index, visit the project’s website, where you can explore trends using an interactive chart. You can also download a CPI colouring book to ease holiday stress.
Happy New Year!
As 2016 comes to a close, we’re taking the time to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year.
Our team members have actively contributed to the success of communities in 2016. As we look forward to 2017, we anticipate opportunities to help those we work with to grow and thrive.
From our team to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year and hope 2017 brings you many opportunities to celebrate success with your team.
Are you ready for the Census 2016 data releases?
With the release of Census 2016 data, Canadian economic developers (and others who rely on sound information about their communities) will have access to some of the most anticipated data in a decade. Particularly given the gaps created by the switch from a mandatory long form survey to the voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) in 2011. Among other challenges created by the voluntary NHS, a significantly lower response rate in 2011 compared to 2006 led to the
suppression of data for at least 12% of municipalities.
Census 2016, on the other hand, generated so much enthusiasm (including on social media) that Statistics Canada’s website crashed
as Canadians eagerly completed their Census forms. This enthusiastic response led to Statistics Canada’s best Census ever with a response rate of 98.4% for the long and short form questionnaires.
Want to know what Census 2016 has to say about your community? Statistics Canada’s Census releases begin on February 8, 2017, with Population and Dwelling counts. Get the full Census Release schedule here.
Mapping US tech start-up investment
Where do different tech industries (e.g. software, biotechnology, media) cluster? Richard Florida, Karen King, and the Martin Prosperity Institute try to answer this question in a recent study
that explores the geography of tech start-ups and venture capital activity
in the United States.
The study found that software, IT services, biotechnology, medical devices and equipment, as well as media and entertainment, make up three-quarters ($25 billion) of all venture capital investment in the US. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area and the Boston-Washington Corridor dominate across all industries, partially attributed to the leading universities in the area.
The software industry makes up over 36% (~$12 billion) of venture capital investment. San Francisco (27.6%), San Jose (20.2%), and New York City (8.2%) make up the top three geographies for investment into software start-ups. A similar trend is seen in the venture capital investment for information technology, where San Francisco (33.5%) again dominates, followed by San Jose (14.2%) and New York
The presence of leading biotech universities (e.g. University of California San Francisco, MIT, and University of San Diego) support a clustering of biotech start-ups around them. As such, San Francisco brings in 30.8% in venture capital investment, followed by Boston (18.1%), and San Diego (8.3%). Interestingly, the Boston-Washington Corridor attracts 40% of all biotech investments, compared to less than a third for the San Francisco Bay Area.
In examining the biomedical industry, Boston start-ups bring in the largest amount of venture capital investments (15.8%), followed closely by Fan Francisco (15.6%) and San Jose (9.7%). However, the Boston-Washington Corridor bring in 23% of the investment, second to the Bay Area which accounts for the largest percentage of investment
The geography of tech industries is spiky, clustered around a small number of metros in the U.S. Where investment is flowing is important for mayors, policy makers, and economic developers to understand as they look to attract investment and support the development of thriving tech clusters.
The rise of the gig economy
The “gig economy" refers to the growing amount of independent and self-employed work that uses the internet and digital technology to match freelance workers with customers and service providers. Some of the most prominent examples of this are companies like Uber and Airbnb that have created online platforms to transform traditional jobs into independent, self-directed work.
A new report released by the
Tracking the Gig Economy dives deeper into this changing economic landscape to explore if the headlines around the gig economy match up to the facts. Drawing data from the United States Census Bureau on “non-employer” firms (a measure of contractor and freelance individuals), the report looks at data from the US to estimate the extent and reach of the gig economy and the geographies most impacted by these changes.
Not surprisingly, the report finds that gig-economy firms grew by 60% over the past 15 years, adding nearly 10 million new “firms” to the economic landscape (from 15 million in 1997 to 24 million in
2014). Payroll jobs (i.e. non-freelance work) during the same period grew by 12.4% from 129 million to 145 million.
The vast majority of this rapid growth in gig-economy firms has been concentrated in the largest metropolitan areas of the US in cities like San Jose (Silicon Valley), San Francisco, and Austin. While it’s not surprising that cities renowned for being leading technology hubs would have rapid growth, other cities less known for technology are also seeing rapid growth. These include Nashville, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Columbus, and Indianapolis. All saw at least 60% growth of gig-economy firms from 1997 to 2014.
These statistics highlight just how quickly the gig economy is growing and that it’s playing a
more pervasive role in America's urban economies. For economic development professionals, it's important to recognize how the rise of the gig economy has and continues to disrupt the fabric of cities. Looking to the future, it's important to consider how the gig economy will continue to change the ways people live, work, socialize, and interact with one another, and what roles institutions can play in these transitions.
Connectography: Just how interconnected are we?
The phrase “connectivity” is often bandied about in economic development circles, and usually refers to a community’s capacity to connect to the digital realm, thereby supporting investment and opportunities in the knowledge space. But what if connectivity was more than just a digital notion? What if our local
economic success was dictated in large part by a bigger concept of connectivity? This bigger concept might include digital connections, but also physical transportation and infrastructure connections, and a host of people connections that tie us together through culture, social perspectives, and business opportunities. This is the central notion behind Parag Khanna’s latest book Connectography, which carries the rather ambitious subtitle Mapping the Future of Global Civilization.
is a big, sprawling book that Khanna has described as “a book about everything.” His core argument is that we “are moving into an era where cities will matter more than states and supply chains will be a more important source of power than militaries — whose main purpose will be to protect supply chains rather than borders. Competitive connectivity is the arms race of the 21st century.” Basically, our ability to connect determines whether we will succeed or fail in the new economy.
Khanna’s work is often clearer in ambition than in execution, and
Connectography is no exception. It’s full of nuggets like “[d]evolution-aggregation is how the world comes together by falling apart.” He makes grand-sounding predictions with obscure meaning, such as the notion that we are about to enter a “Great Supply Chain War that will redraw 21st-century maps as much as the Thirty Years’ War
did in the 17th century.” Perhaps most perplexingly, he fails to suggest ways in which increasingly connected super powers and corporations relate to the emergence of forces like Brexit
and U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump. To be fair, he does plan to address that in a book next year, in which he favours abandoning fickle democracy for a new Technocracy.
But despite its weaknesses, Khanna’s book does a solid job of mapping the ways in which connectivity spurs opportunity. In an era where emerging leaders from Trump to
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are signalling renewed interest in infrastructure investment, Connectography offers a road map for effective investment. Further, at a time when immigration and workforce mobility are becoming larger concerns, Khanna makes a strong case for the way in which the movement of people can become an asset for development. Ultimately, Connectography
is one of those books where you have to pick and choose the most useful parts… But some of those parts are quite useful indeed.
Out & About
Brock Dickinson will be the keynote speaker at the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education & Skills Development Central Region All-Staff Meeting in Toronto, ON, on January 19th. He will be speaking on the topic of “Building A Culture of Innovation.”
Trudy Parsons is attending the
Cannexus17 National Career Development Conference
taking place from January 23rd to 25th in Ottawa, ON. Workforce Development Zone Exhibitor. MDB Insight, Magnet, VicinityJobs and NAWB are leading a Labour Market Information Scavenger Hunt at Cannexus17 to generate conversation around LMI.
Paul Blais and Trudy Parsons will be at the Economic Developers Council of Ontario Annual Conference in Toronto, ON, from February 7th to 9th.