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Illuminated By Street Lamps: Ontario: A leading jurisdiction for intense, coercive neoliberalism

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzzi Global capitalism has liberalized incrementally since the end of the Second World War. As the Keynesian welfare state fell out of favour in the late 1970s amid a stagnating economy and rising government spending, a new business-friendly approach dubbed neoliberalism (literally, “new liberalism”), emerged and ushered in an epoch of devotion to market principles as the solution to what ails Ontario both economically and socially. The implementation of the Canada-US Trade Agreement in 1987[1], North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994[2]and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995[3] were (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: He-cession to She-precarious recovery?

As Armine has pointed out recently, women play a key role in economic recoveries: (She says it so well, I have to quote her directly:)

Every recession is a “he-cession”: men lose more jobs than women in a downturn because the first thing to slow is the production in goods-producing industries that are typically male-dominated (mining, forestry, construction, manufacturing). Every early stage of recovery is a “she-covery”: men who lose $30 an hour jobs wince at accepting $15 an hour offers, but women grab them to make sure the bills get paid.

This shows up in the underemployment rate, which (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alex Usher on Jason Kenney’s Enthusiasm for German Apprenticeships

Alex Usher, one of Canada’s most well-known post-secondary education pundits, has just written a blog post offering some sober second thought on Minister Kenney’s recent enthusiasm for Germany’s apprenticeship system.

Mr. Usher’s blog post can be accessed here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Millennials, School, and Work

Given that the 2014 Federal Budget talked a lot about youth unemployment, but didn’t actually do very much, I thought it would be worth going over a few trends for the 20-29 age group.

Young workers are usually hit harder by recessions, and this most recent recession was no different. You can see significant spikes in unemployment rates during recessions in the graph below. Also notice that unemployment rates were much higher in the 1981 and 1990 recessions than they are for this one.

That doesn’t mean that everything is OK now. Alongside trends in unemployment rates are changing contexts. (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The mouse in the room: Small business fetish and the minimum wage debate

The scrappy mom-and-pop shop may be a nice image, but how well does it reflect the reality of employment? Small business may be neither as ubiquitous nor economically heroic as many people think. If this is the case, then perhaps the needs of small business should not figure as prominently in some economic policy debates. The minimum wage debate is a case in point.

This line of thinking arose from finding an older piece by the excellent Doug Henwood, which questions the nearly universal platitudes directed at small business. Doug writes,

[S]mall business often serves an ideological purpose. (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Do High Tuition Fees Make for Good Public Policy?

This afternoon I gave a presentation to Professor Ted Jackson’s graduate seminar course on higher education, taught in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. The link to my slide deck, titled “The Political Economy of Post-Secondary Education in Canada,” can be found here.

Points I raised in the presentation include the following:

-Tuition fees have been rising in Canada for roughly the past three decades. Yet, individuals in the 25-44 age demographic have the highest levels of household debt in Canada. This raises an important question: Is it good public policy to be saddling this demographic (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The political aspects of the minimum wage

Discussion of the minimum wage can easily slide into a technocratic back-and-forth that ignores the vital political aspect at play. We can see this in much of the response to the report just released by the Ontario government’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel (MWAP). Andrew Coyne, for example, once again argues that a basic income is a better solution to poverty than increases in the minimum wage. The question, however, should not be one of which single tool is best for fighting poverty, but how we can build the most effective toolkit, one that also puts political power into the hands of the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Tim Hudak: Scott Walker wannabe

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s pledge to create one million new jobs sounds like a direct rip-off of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s promise to create 250,000 new jobs in a four year term. Only the state, er province and numbers are different.

And how is the Koch brother-funded, union-busting Scott Walker’s promise shaping up?

Not too well. Three quarters of the way and he’s nowhere close, with only 42% the promised 250,000 private sector jobs created. Wisconsin was tracking 37th among American states in terms of private sector job creation last year.

Walker is already backtracking on his (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Are Younger and Older Workers Fighting for Jobs?

There was a spate of media stories recently on a US report finding that increased employment of seniors has no negative impacts at all on young people also seeking work.

In fact, the study by leading US economist Alicia Munnell, looking mainly at the experience of US states, did say that the so-called “lump of labour” fallacy may be true when an economy is experiencing very high unemployment and extended stagnation. (p.5)

In Canada as a whole, the employment rate for all workers 15 and over was 61.8% in 2012, while it was 54.5% for young (Read more…)

Illuminated By Street Lamps: No Federal Childcare Program: An Exercise In Strengthening Hegemony

            Canada, a nation among the wealthiest in the world, cannot meet its daycare needs. The problem has grown to crisis proportions in the country’s largest cities. In Toronto there are only enough daycare spaces for about one in five of the city’s children.[1] In downtown Vancouver, 2,000 children are on a childcare waiting list.[2] There is no federal universal childcare scheme in Canada. Some provinces and municipalities offer subsidized childcare but these programs are at constant risk of having funding withdrawn. As well, the lack of federal standardization results in wide disparities of (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: No Widespread Labour Shortage, widespread information gaps.

A TD Economics Special Report released on October 22nd debunked the popular economic myth spread by Minister Kenney that there are too many jobs without people. The report looks at changes in employment, unemployment, job vacancy rates, and wages. Job vacancy rates are higher for trades occupations in Western Canada, but overall job vacancy rates are low.

There is no sign of wage pressure, even in occupations with perceived shortages, which the report points out as being quite puzzling. In Saskatchewan, wages for *in demand* occupations are actually growing at a slower rate than the provincial average.

The “No Widespread (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Labour Force Numbers Worse Than They Look

Today’s Labour Force numbers provide more evidence that Canada’s labour market is still mired in a 3-year funk. Following one year of decent recovery from mid-2009 (the trough of the recession) to mid-2010, driven mostly by extraordinary monetary and fiscal stimulus, further progress has been stalled ever since.

Most headlines focus on the unemployment rate, but that is a misleading indicator — especially during sluggish times (when many workers give up looking for non-existent jobs, and hence disappear from the official unemployment rolls). The Canadian unemployment rate rose to 7.2% in July, and is now just a smidge (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Funding Cuts to Alberta’s PSE Sector: There Are Alternatives

It has recently been reported that the University of Alberta wants to “reopen two-year collective agreements” with faculty and staff “to help the university balance its budget…”

This appears to be in direct response to Alberta’s provincial government announcing in its March budget that there would be a “7% cut to operating grants to universities, colleges, and technical institutes.”

This strikes me as a curious turn of events, for several reasons.

-Alberta’s top income tax rate (i.e. the provincial share) is a mere 10%. This is the lowest of any Canadian province or territory. By contrast, (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: OECD Findings on Employment Protection and Jobs Performance

Further to my earlier post on the OECD’s new data on employment performance across its 34 member countries (and Canada’s relatively poor ranking in that regard), another part of the OECD Employment Outlook 2013 that is also worth reading in detail is Chapter 2. It provides a thorough revision and updating of the OECD’s quantitative index of EPL intensity. It contains a useful summary of the mainstream literature regarding EPL costs and benefits (which would have benefited, however, from inclusion of some critical, heterodox voices), as well as a detailed review of the revised methodology behind the OECD (Read more…)

Illuminated By Street Lamps: In Brampton, Few Recorded Development Votes After Developers Contribute To Political War Chests

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzzi Key Findings: 

– The development industry is clearly engaged in the political process at Brampton City Hall.

– 233 development companies and development-affiliated individuals were publicly disclosed to have contributed money to Brampton candidates in the 2010 municipal election.

– Of those 233 developer donors, 48 were discovered to have proposals in various stages in front of Brampton City Hall between December 12, 2010 and May 22, 2013, according to city council minutes.

– The interests of 20.6 per cent ─ or about one in five ─ of the companies and individuals (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Illuminated By Street Lamps: In Brampton, Few Recorded Development Votes After Developers Contribute To Political War Chests

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada Sinking Fast on Global List of Job Creators

The federal government never tires of boasting that Canada’s labour market has performed better than most other countries through the financial crisis and subsequent recession, and that the number of Canadians working today is greater than it was before the recession hit. That means we have fully recovered from the downturn, and the Tories are good economic managers, right? Wrong.

This trick is based on ignoring the fact that Canada’s population is growing, and relatively rapidly. Our working age population has grown by 1.75 million since 2008 (or just under 1.5% per year). So (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Remove “Canadian experience” employment barrier: Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission argues that employers’ rigid requirement for “Canadian experience” for new immigrants is, in some cases, “discrimination under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.”

The post Remove “Canadian experience” employment barrier: Ontario Human Rights Commission appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Sask Party Employment Math: From the Great Wall to the Berlin Wall

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released my policy brief on Saskatchewan job-creation. Using Statistics Canada figures, it demonstrated that “workforce growth has been almost identical during the premierships of Brad Wall and Lorne Calvert.” Unsurprisingly, the main explanatory variable for Saskatchewan employment appears to be commodity prices rather than the party in power.

The governing Saskatchewan Party need not have been particularly offended by this conclusion. However, its narrative is that the province was like East Germany under the NDP and that Wall has unleashed “unprecedented growth.”

So, Economy Minister Bill Boyd responded by accusing (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Data, data, everywhere: but

So, the National Household Survey’s Portrait of Canada’s labour force is out, and I can’t help but think of Donald Rumsfeld’s known unknowns. We know that we don’t know anything about those who didn’t respond to the survey, or how they might be different from those that did. We also know that there are some discrepancies in terms of labour force data even at the national level when comparing the NHS to the LFS.

We know that the sample size for the NHS was 4.5 million households, with a 68.6% response rate. The LFS only samples 56,000 households, (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: After layoffs, racialized immigrant workers face precarious employment, poverty wages

by: CAW & Ryerson University | Press Release:

TORONTO, June 25, 2013 – Older immigrant workers who have been laid off are falling through the cracks of Canada’s employment system, with many of them ending up in temporary jobs with few benefits, finds a new study released today at Ryerson University’s Centre for Labour Management Relations at Ted Rogers School of Management.

“We were interested in finding out how this group of workers has managed since the plant closure five years ago and whether they have found stable work again,” says Winnie Ng, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy and lead (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Great Wall Ties Chairman Calvert’s Five-Year Plan

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released my policy brief (PDF) on Saskatchewan employment growth. It is covered on the front pages of today’s Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix business sections. The press release follows:

Premier Wall’s Employment Record Lags Calvert and Blakeney

Regina – A new policy brief from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Saskatchewan Office, The Great Wall Ties Chairman Calvert’s Five-Year Plan: Employment Growth in the New Saskatchewan, challenges the provincial government’s spin regarding job creation.

“Many of the Saskatchewan Party government’s much-vaunted employment records reflect seasonal fluctuations,” notes author Erin Weir, an economist (Read more…)

The Scott Ross: Canada Originally Intended All Education To Be Free

Out of Canada’s 33 Fathers of Confederation, only one went to university.1

It’s not that Nova Scotia’s Charles Tupper was the only intelligent one among them, other founders were businessmen, doctors, and lawyers, it’s that none of those jobs, and many others, did not require any post-secondary education.

The eduction jobs in the late 19th century did require was entirely made free shortly after confederation because provincial governments, though extremely small and limited, believed that their public schools should provide all the instruction necessary for citizens to obtain jobs in any sector, be it agriculture, engineering, manufacturing, commerce, medicine (Read more…)

elementalpresent: Who’s Driving? A Response to 4Front Atlantic’s GPS for Atlantic Canada

What we are all looking for…is the readymade, competent man [sic]; the man whom some one else has trained. It is only when we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity, lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this competent man, instead of in hunting for a man whom some […]

The Progressive Economics Forum: Crowley’s Red Hot Labour Market

Brian Lee Crowley’s latest column shows he’s a glass-half-full kinda guy. We shouldn’t be worried about unemployment because a) it’s old-fashioned, b) Boomers had it worse (and now they’re getting old) c) we’re doing better than the U.S., and d) it’s really only young people and immigrants that are unemployed.

This is a relief.

So I shouldn’t worry that Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey indicates that real average hourly wages have risen by only twenty cents between 2009 and 2012 (an annualized growth rate of 0.3%). Or, that at the same time, real median hourly wages have (Read more…) fallen, indicating that any wage growth is limited to a few at the top end.

Crowley cites vague evidence from internet job advertisements to point out that the number of jobs going unfilled are rising fast.

That’s good news for Canada’s 1.3 million job seekers. They had been discouraged by Statistics . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Crowley’s Red Hot Labour Market

The Progressive Economics Forum: Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC

Below is the summary for our latest Climate Justice Project report, Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Green Jobs through Zero Waste in BC (I recommend checking the much prettier full paper, stand-alone summary, and awesome infographic by Sam Bradd on the website). Closing the Loop was a complex and challenging project that made my head spin, but in the end is one I am really proud of. For me it puts in place a key foundational piece of the Climate Justice Project, and bridges the ecological economics that I had first encountered in grad school two decades ago with all of the

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC