What is a local job anyway?

wolfgang-MAINBy Wolfgang Wittenburg
Published: July 19, 2014


The word ‘Jobs’ is in the air again, and will be so increasingly the nearer we come to the municipal election. Its present popularity owes much to the debate about LNG Woodfibre. Some take issue that  permanent jobs there would be filled mostly by newcomers, others praise their local economic spin-offs.

There is no doubt that such jobs would be local as they would be performed for a local business and  the imported job-takers would simply come to fill jobs already created for them here. It would still irk the ones who feel that new jobs should foremost be created for locals, but likely satisfy those whose battle cry is  ‘Jobs before more people’, the folks who abhor anything smacking of a ‘bedroom’ community, proposing instead a moratorium on further growth until appropriate (preferably industrial) jobs have been created.

Their view should at least tell us what constitutes a ‘local job’, but is it really that straightforward? What about the newcomer –  entrepreneur or professional –  who brings a self-generated job to Squamish?  Should such an individual be suspect, because both the job brought along and its holder are ‘imports’ and the contribution from self-employment to municipal taxes insignificant at the start?  What if, apart from initially doing nothing for the local job market, the newcomer’s job should also begin competing with, perhaps even displace, someone already here?

There is more: Up to now the assumption has been that our newcomer’s job is tied to the local economy, but what if the entire source of income is generated elsewhere in the world? Can the job still be called ‘local’, because some of the work is being done locally, but the corporate or institutional employer and paymaster commissioning  and benefiting from it having otherwise no connection to Squamish?

How do local economic spin-offs of the foregoing jobs  differ from the ones applauded for local industrial jobs, how from those produced  by our daily commuters? Indeed, how does the source of income of these commuter jobs differ from the ones executed in situ for ‘outsiders’? There really is no difference, and we haven’t even touched on the economic spin-offs generated by our retirees, both newcomers and old-timers, through their retirement income and spending!

So what exactly is a local job in the world we live in today? It was easy in the not too distant resource oriented past to tell what was or who had a local job. Not so today, and what looks to some simply like a ‘bedroom community’ is in fact a hive of activity and becoming ever more so as the digital revolution forces old business and growth models to yield to new ones.  Local policy makers, take note!



  1. Newcomer says:

    Great article!