Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

The Progressive Economics Forum: Should Welfare Recipients Try Harder to Find Work?

This morning the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation released a new report about “motivational interviewing” for welfare recipients. The link to the full report is here, and the link to the executive summary is here.

Authored by Reuben Ford, Jenn Dixon, Shek-wai Hui, Isaac Kwakye and Danielle Patry, the study reports on a recent randomized controlled trial done on long-term recipients of social assistance in British Columbia. The research took place between September 2012 and March 2013. There were a total of 154 research participants; 76 of the individuals were in the “treatment group,” while 78 were in (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Job Numbers

Today Statistics Canada released their first set of job numbers since the ‘oops’ of July 2014. And the news was dismal. The labour market shed 112,000 private sector positions, the largest single month drop in the private sector since, well, forever. Coming on the heels of a mistake is unfortunate, but you have to think that Statistics Canada was extra vigilant this month and checked everything up, down, backwards, and sideways.

Either way, month to month variations are far less meaningful than overall trends, so let’s have a look at those, shall we?

Part-time work

Only workers over 55 have (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Revised LFS Numbers Don’t Change the Big Picture

What a rough week it’s been over at Statistics Canada. It’s a world-renowned statistical agency — though its lustre has been tarnished in recent years by budget cuts, cancelled data programs and series, and the nonsense of the Harper government’s libertarian crusade against the long form census. The problems this week around its Labour Force Survey report for July will certainly contribute to the sense of entropy surrounding this important and valuable institution.

The biggest change in the numbers is that full-time employment is now estimated to have declined by about 20,000, instead of the original 60,000. (Read more…)

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Much Ado About Religious Accommodation

Much is being made of a decision by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) managers at Toronto’s Pearson airport to allow a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards to comply with their religious beliefs.

Apparently some female CBSA officers feel that they were discriminated against by this decision. I could understand an outrage if female officers were only allowed

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dismal job numbers for June

Statistics Canada’s release of job numbers for June look truly dismal. The unemployment rate rose to 7.1%, and there was a loss of 9,400 jobs compared to May. Year over year, employment rose by only 72,000. That’s a weak 0.4% and the lowest year-over-year increase since February 2010.

An even worse sign – all of that job growth was concentrated in workers over 65. One industry boasted over 80% of net new jobs year-over-year – health care and social assistance.

While there was an increase in full-time work and a a decline in part-time jobs, total hours worked (Read more…)

THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: Temporary agency workers struggling with low pay and economic insecurity: CCPA report

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives examined the rise of temporary agency work in British Columbia, proposes reforms to better protect workers.

The post Temporary agency workers struggling with low pay and economic insecurity: CCPA report appeared first on THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Labour market stagnant

Erin has already commented that the tiny silver lining of 26,000 net new jobs in May covers a net loss of full-time jobs. In fact, if you compare this May to May 2013, we see that all of the net job gain in the past 12 months is part-time work too.

To look at the trends, I broke down employment growth since October 2008 into part-time and full-time jobs. This shows that full-time job growth has been pretty much stagnant since January 2013.

While we expect to see stronger growth in part time work earlier in a recovery, here we (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Benjamin Zycher’s Eight-Year Itch

The controversy regarding the mathematical errors in the Ontario PCs’ “million jobs plan” went viral last week, after a critical mass of economists weighed in to confirm that the party had indeed badly misinterpreted the findings (by as much as 8 times over) of their own consultants’ studies. This sparked a firestorm of media coverage, inspired the Globe and Mail’s Adrian Morrow to rename the Tory campaign bus (now called “The Million Person-Years Express”), and spawned a satiric hashtag (#Hudak8) that trended on Twitter.

The damage to the centrepiece of the Tory platform is serious, although (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: More on Conference Board Model of Corporate Tax Cuts

Further to my post yesterday about how the Ontario PCs have vastly overstated their own consultants’ estimates of the number of jobs produced by their various policy proposals (including lower corporate taxes, lower electricity prices, interprovincial free trade, and regulatory reduction), some have asked me about precisesly how the Conference Board report simulated the corporate tax reduction I was discussing.

At the bottom of p.8, their report (available on-line here) indicates they are simulating a reduction in corporate taxes of 1 percent of the corresponding tax base (ie. pre-tax corporate profits), which is equivalent to a one-point reduction (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Rental Housing in Yellowknife

Yesterday I blogged about rental housing in Yellowknife, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site. Specifically, I blogged about a recent announcement by the city’s largest for-profit landlord that it plans to “tighten” its policies vis-a-vis renting to recipients of “income assistance” (which, in most parts of Canada, is known generically as social assistance). Among other things, I suggest in the post that the for-profit landlord in question may be in a monopoly situation. The link to my blog post is here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Major Numerical Problems in Tim Hudak’s Jobs Plan

When Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak kicked off the current election campaign with a plan to “create a million new jobs” in Ontario, he tried to dress up the platform launch with a certain scientific respectability. The party released a “technical backgrounder” showing the precise composition of the million new jobs, along with two commissioned consultants’ reports that were said to justify the estimates contained in the plan.

I cannot find either the backgrounder or the consultant reports on the PC site (perhaps, as you read on, you will agree there is good reason for this), but they were circulated widely (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Hudak job cuts impact on communities

Today the Ontario Federation of Labour and CUPE Ontario published calculations I prepared of how Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s promise to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs will be felt at the local level, on cities and communities across the province.

The original OFL release provides info on the magnitude of these impacts for the 15 largest census metropolitan areas across Ontario, for which labour force survey figures are available, a second release has the impacts for smaller communities, while CUPE Ontario has put a map on-line that shows the impact for all the metro areas and a number of smaller cities and towns (or “census (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: More on Demographics, Demand, and Canada’s Falling Employment Rate

My post last week on the continuing decline in the employment rate in Canada (to below 61.5% in April, barely higher than the low point reached in the 2008-09 recession) has sparked some continuing discussion about the role of demographic change in explaining that decline (as opposed to a shortage of labour demand).

Is the decline in the employment rate due to weak labour market conditions, or is it due to the ageing of the workforce (as a result of which a larger share of the working age population consists of people in older age categories which normally have (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Austerity Bites, Employment Rate Falls Again

Today’s labour force numbers are ugly, there’s no other word for it. Employment down 29,000 jobs. Paid employment (ie. not counting self-employment) down 46,000 jobs. The only reason the unemployment rate held steady (at 6.9%) is because labour force participation fell again: by almost 2 tenths of a point, to just over 66%. That’s the lowest level of labour force participation since 2001. Convenient for suppressing the headline unemployment rate, but socially destructive and very costly in the long-run (as more and more Canadians lose contact with the labour market).

In a weak macroeconomy, (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: How NOT to Create A Million Jobs

It was almost too painful to watch: Tim Hudak and top Conservative luminaries kicked off their campaign for the 2014 Ontario election in a Toronto music recording studio. Problem: that studio (like others in the business) is supported in part by recording and production industry grants from the provincial government — exactly the kind of “corporate welfare” that Mr. Hudak routinely rails against. Reporters asked about this seeming contradiction, and after a couple of kicks at the can Mr. Hudak abruptly walked off the stage — leaving his confused host (studio owner and former rocker Gil Moore) standing (Read more…)

Illuminated By Street Lamps: Temporary Foreign Workers: What Canada Must Do To Protect A Vulnerable Labour Class

By Joe Fantauzzi @jjfantauzziKey Findings and Recommendations:- Between 2003 and 2012, the number of temporary foreign workers admitted to Canada jumped from 102,932 to 213,573 — a difference of 107.5%.- Inquests are mandatory in Ontario when an on-the-job accident kills a worker employed at “a construction project, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry”[19] — but not in the course of agricultural work.- Effective collective bargaining must be extended to migrant workers by Parliament.- Public health benefits must be extended to workers injured in the course of their work even after (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Illuminated By Street Lamps: Temporary Foreign Workers: What Canada Must Do To Protect A Vulnerable Labour Class

The Progressive Economics Forum: More Evidence that Temporary Foreign Worker Program Takes Jobs Away from Canadians

Yet another report, this time by SFU Public Policy Professor Dominique M. Gross, finds evidence that Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program is bad for domestic workers. The report looks at BC and Alberta specifically and concludes that the expansion of the TFW program between 2007 and 2010 resulted in an increase in unemployment levels by 4.8 percentage points in BC and 3.1 percentage points in Alberta. You can read the full report here or see Tara Carman’s article about it in the Vancouver Sun here.

This report confirms what I found in my recent CCPA report, BC Jobs (Read more…)

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…)