Soon after the start of the pandemic, Statistics Canada launched the Real-time Local Business Conditions Index (RT-LBCI) as an experimental statistic to measure business activity in real time.
As the pandemic created disruption for economies worldwide, the importance and need for up-to-date economic data had never been higher. To address this, Statistics Canada developed the new RT-LBCI measure to help capture the impact of containment measures and the subsequent recovery from pandemic mitigation efforts.
This new measure was developed to provide a more consistent and accurate measurement of business activity across Canada, with 30 top urban centres included in the collection and analysis of data.
Since the launch of Statistics Canada’s RT-LBCI index in 2020, the City of St. John’s has consistently ranked as one of the top performing urban centres for business activity in Canada. It has also been one of the only jurisdictions to achieve a level of business activity five times higher than the data baseline of 100 initially set in August 2020.
What is Being Measured?
RT-LBCI currently measures both static and real-time measures of business activity.
Business Size is a static measure and is Statistics Canada’s own business data compiling total revenues of businesses in “business dense areas”. These areas incorporate many areas within the St. John’s Census Metropolitan Area (CMA).
Business Operating Conditions are a real-time measure and incorporates data from Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Examples used are Google Places, Yelp Fusion and Zomato. These sources use mobile phones and other sources to track retail, restaurants and other activities.
Finally, Business Level of Activity is the other real-time measure which uses road traffic flows to capture business activity in the business dense areas.
More background on RT-LBCI can be found here.
What is the Baseline Data, How Do You Compare?
The baseline for this statistical measurement is set equal to 100 at the starting period of the series which is August 2020. An increased index value implies an improvement of the business conditions in the jurisdiction being measured, and a decrease implies a deterioration of business conditions.
“The RT-LBCI is released as an experimental statistic. It is intended to provide a real-time signal on business activities following the disruptions brought about by the pandemic and through the recovery phase. It is acknowledged that this signal does not capture all dimensions of business conditions. Moreover, the methodological developments of this index are ongoing. New data sources may be incorporated into the index computation over time and, consequently, the computation methods may too be revised over time.”
To compare RT-LBCI measures in St. John’s to other jurisdictions across Canada, click here.
Main photo: Brian Carey Photography