Olympics won't bring employment boom

Bid Committee's estimates overstate likely impact
February 21, 2003

(Vancouver) The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid Corporation's claims that hosting the Winter Games will generate an employment boom are wildly exaggerated and not born out by the experience of previous host cities.

David Green, a Professor of Economics at UBC and CCPA research associate, is the author of a brief released today that takes an in-depth look at the employment estimates put forward by the Olympic Bid Corporation. In particular, the Bid Corporation has repeatedly advertized that the Games will create between 228,000 to 244,000 new jobs. "The Bid Corporation's job promises are grossly exaggerated. To suggest the Games could generate nearly a quarter of a million jobs--which would represent a 12% increase in BC's workforce--is highly unrealistic.

Green says he decided to write the brief in order to provide the public with a reality check. "I looked at what actually happened in terms of net job creation before, during and after the last three Winter Games hosted in North America. The experiences of Lake Placid, Calgary and Salt Lake City tell us that we should expect about10,000 person years of employment, equivalent to about 1,400 new jobs lasting seven years."

"Moreover," says Green, "the evidence suggests that positive job impacts will be experienced before and during the Olympics, but will be offset by a reduction in employment after the Games. This is because some construction projects that would otherwise have occurred after the Games will have been moved forward in time to meet Olympic needs. It appears that with the Olympics, governments tend to use up their budgets for capital projects before the Games, and find themselves with limited capital budgets for several years afterwards."

The CCPA brief concludes that the 200,000-plus new jobs figure being promoted by the Bid Corporation is simply not credible. "First of all, the Bid Corporation's figure counts the job creation resulting from the Trade and Convention Centre Expansion, which is set to go ahead with or without the Olympics. Second, the number is based on the most optimistic tourism scenario. Third, it counts person years of employment rather than long-term jobs. Finally, it assumes all Olympic job creation will result in workers being newly-employed, instead of estimated net job impacts."

"Can the Olympics really deliver jobs on the scale that the Bid Corporation promises? The answer is clearly no."