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StatsCan spinning the recession?

In its report on January 2009 retail sales, StatsCan said sales were up in January after falling in December 2008. But one economist says it's spin, and he says the hell with it.

Writing in The Lead-Up, the election blog of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Marc Lee writes:

But if we take a reality check, and look not at December 2008 to January 2009 numbers, but January 2009 over January 2008, the result is brutal. I looked through the tables and we find that retail sales are down almost 6% over a year ago. Some of the sub-categories are much worse, such as auto sales, which are down 18%. That is deep recession territory.

...All that the Daily tells us, in this context, is that December was really awful, and January was somewhat of an improvement relative to December.

But ignoring the year-over-year trend is scandalous and irresponsible, and I for one would like to know who made that call over at Statscan. It just seems way too convenient that this analysis is in step with the federal government’s upbeat message track.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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