Friday, October 2, 2009

Census Variable Question


A grad student here at the University of Manitoba is doing a thesis on the economy in Northern Manitoba. As most data sources do not have much of a geographical breakdown, he has been looking at the Census (profile) data. This has been somewhat helpful, but he is running into problems when he starts looking at older censuses versus newer. For example, in 1986 the variable is "Transport, storage, commun. and other utilities", in 1991 it is "Communication and other utility industries" and in 1996, he starts getting a few variables, such as "Occupations unique to processing, Manuf and utilities" and "Labourers in processing, manuf. & utilities." This doesn't look very comparable, so he is thinking that he might rather compare some more encompassing variable. This is why he is now looking at "government services", but it is not clear if an occupation such as working for a utility would be considered part of the "government services"? That is my understanding anyway of what he is asking, but I have appended his email question below. Would there be someone in the Census division we might be able to refer him to, that might be more intimately aware of what is included in these variables, and what might or might not be comparable over this time period? Of course, any other advice you might have concerning this would be equally welcome.

"I am using the 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2001 Canada Censuses to get some information about the Northern Manitoba economy. A very important variable for this economy is participation in the utility sector (i.e. Hydro). I was able to obtain disaggregated data on this variable for the later two censuses. However, there is no variable measuring this in the earlier censuses. Because I understand it is going to be very complicated (if not impossible) to obtain data on this for earlier censuses, I just want to know whether this variable was included as part of participation in government services, non-government services or any other sector of the economy. "


I am not sure whether he is looking at breakdowns by industry or occupation. However, I did run it by Census Division and was told that he would need to look at the relevant classifications (SIC, NAICS, NOC, SOC) in conjunction with the concordance tables available at the following links:

These detail the hierarchical formations and comparability of the different industrial and occupational categories within the different classification systems used in various censuses. For example, the 1986 variable you cite below combines sections G (Transportation and Storage Industries) and H (Communication and Other Utility Industries) of the SIC-80 classification. He could use the concordance tables to see how these sections relate to classifications used in later censuses.

Census Division also noted that more detailed levels of industry or occupation can be ordered as custom tabulations, although the cost may be prohibitive in this case.

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