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The Progressive Economics Forum: Job Numbers Surprise

For the first time in a while, Statistics Canada gives us some good news on the job front. 74,000 net new jobs added in September, certainly nothing to sneeze at. Still, we would need to keep this pace up every month for the next year to close the employment gap left by the last recession.

On the graph below, this month’s huge uptick barely makes a dent. The blue line is how many jobs we have, and the dotted pink line is how many we would have if the employment rate were 63.6%.

 

This holds true for workers (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Labour market musings

Just a short post ahead of the job numbers that come out from Statistics Canada tomorrow. We still have so much ground to make up. Five years after the end of the last recession, and Canada’s labour market is still just limping along. And it seems to have taken a turn for the worse recently.

While the Conservative government crows about one million net new jobs, they conveniently forget to mention that we would need to add another 880,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy to catch up to our pre-recession employment rate.

On average, that’s about 73,000 jobs per (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Liberal’s EI Plan Rests on Bad Math

Joe Oliver’s recently announced a Small Business Tax Cut, sorry, Job Credit. Economists across the ideological spectrum denounced it as poorly designed.

This opened up an interesting opportunity for a national debate about what we want E.I. to be – coverage right now is at all time lows, and the accumulated deficit from the last recession will soon be repaid in full.

The Liberal Party entered the EI debate by suggesting a one-year EI premium holiday for employers who hire new workers. It’s disappointing that they completely ignored the possibility of expanding access. What’s even worse is that their (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Of Rising Tides and Sinking Boats

Recently, Minister Kenney took to twitter to defend his decision to limit the number of precarious workers entering Alberta through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Again, the minister is to be applauded for his grasp of the situation. His changes do little to fix the actual problem though.

The evidence that he cited was the lack of wage growth among restaurant workers in Alberta. The graph below might not make it clear, but adjusted for inflation, restaurant worker wages in Alberta peaked in 2010, and have fallen since then by over $35 / week. At the same time, the overall (Read more…)

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: Self-Employment Masks Job Loss

Statistics Canada reported today that employers cut the number of employees by 98,000 in August, which was largely masked by 87,000 more Canadians identifying themselves as self-employed. As a result, the headline level of “employment” – which includes self-employment – was little changed.

Self-employment ranges from high-income professionals to people eking out a living doing odd jobs. However, when a large increase in self-employment coincides with a large drop in positions paid by an employer, it begs the question of whether Canadians are becoming self-employed by choice or because jobs are not available. One also wonders how many survey respondents (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Indigenous Workers in Canada

Labour market data in Canada is easily available by sex, age, and region. We spend a great deal of time talking about these factors. More recently Statistics Canada made labour market data available on CANSIM by landed immigrant status, going back to 2006. This factor is less often included in most labour market analysis, and too few know that it is even available.

But if you want to know how racialized workers or Indigenous workers (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are doing in the labour force you basically have to rely on the census … oh, wait. And on (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Is Canada becoming a ‘part-time’ nation – the value of LMI

Most of the jobs added to the Canadian labour market in 2014 were part-time – prompting headlines such as “Experts fret Canada becoming a nation of part-time workers“.

Are we really a part-time nation? Well, 80% of workers in Canada are full-time, and a large majority of part-time workers choose to work part-time hours. So, no, we are not at the verge of some part-time workopolypse. But the labour market has been changing, driven partly by demographics (aging) and women entering the labour force.

Between 1976 and 2013, the number of core-age women working part-time jobs more than (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 Progressive Economics Forum: EI Falls as Unemployment Rises

Statistics Canada reported today that the number of people receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits fell by 12,070 in May – the largest drop in nearly two years. (The last time Statistics Canada records indicate a larger decrease was 12,670 in July 2012.)

This substantial decline in EI benefits comes as unemployment is rising. The Labour Force Survey indicates that unemployment increased by 15,200 in May and by a further 25,700 in June.

Overall, only 37.5% of unemployed Canadians received EI benefits in May (i.e. 504,080 out of 1,343,800).

The fact that fewer Canadians can access benefits even (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: More People Chase Fewer Jobs

Further to Angella’s excellent analysis:

Statistics Canada reported today that unemployment jumped by 25,700 in June because of shrinking employment and a growing labour force. Canada’s labour force expanded because of population growth, even though the participation rate did not increase. The combination of less employment and a larger working-age population depressed the employment rate to 61.4% – its lowest level since January 2010.

The Harper government has long trumpeted having a stronger job market than the US. In June, the unemployment rate rose in Canada but fell in the US. Statistics Canada reports that it is now (Read more…)

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 Progressive Economics Forum: Job Vacancies Falling

The number of job vacancies recorded by Statistics Canada are at a four year low (job vacancy data collection began in January 2011). The number of unemployed persons has changed very little, and so we have a relatively high number of unemployed persons per job vacancy.

Even though the data is not seasonally adjusted, you can see an overall trend toward fewer job vacancies, especially since 2012.

 

As of March 2014, there were only 206,000 job vacancies for nearly 1.4 million unemployed workers in Canada, giving us 6.8 unemployed workers for every job vacancy. If you (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Jobs Up, But Hours Flat

On the surface, today’s employment numbers simply continue a recent trend: employers added some jobs but not enough to keep pace with Canada’s growing labour force. As a result, unemployment edged back up to 7%.

But just below the surface were some even worse developments. Employers actually cut 29,000 full-time positions while adding 55,000 part-time positions in May. Over the past year, the number of hours paid by Canadian employers edged up by only 0.1%, although these hours are now split between more employees.

By industry, the single largest change in May was the loss of 23,000 jobs (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: Alex Usher Needs to Consider Taxation

My debate with Alex Usher on tuition fees continues, over at the Academic Matters web site. In my latest post, I make the case that Mr. Usher needs to consider Canada’s tax system when suggesting that reducing tuition fees is “regressive.”

The Progressive Economics Forum: Tim Hudak, job-killer

It’s a bit of a headscratcher.

First, Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak builds his whole campaign around a promise to create one million new jobs in Ontario over eight years, then one of his first campaign commitments threats is to reduce the number of Ontario government employees by 100,000, together with a wage freeze for every government workers and lower spending in every area except health care. As revealed by David Reevely, in keeping with his choice of great locations for campaign announcements, Hudak made this austerity announcement at a Barrie country club, where the initiation fee is $9,999 (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: If underemployed workers counted …

I’ve written a little bit about the importance of tracking underemployment trends, and this is particularly important when those trends diverge from the headline unemployment rate.

This graph (12 month moving average of unadjusted monthly data) separates unemployed workers and underemployed workers. In recent years the number of unemployed workers has fallen slowly (partially due to falling labour force participation as Jim explains). The number of underemployed workers has not recovered at all from the sharp increase that we saw from the recent recession.

The gap between the two numbers is getting wider, and is mostly due to a (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…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Temporary Foreign Workers

The Temporary Foreign Workers Program has been increasingly in the spotlight the last few weeks. Many allegations have surfaced about the appalling living and working conditions faced by migrant workers. While much of the media coverage has ignored what is most important, my two guests on this week’s podcast are ready to offer some correctives.

First, Jason Foster speaks about the history of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and its role in structural changes to Canada’s labour market – changes that have seen working conditions and security decline across the board. Jason teaches at Athabasca University; his research has focused on migrant labour.

Second, Adriana Paz-Ramirez provides more (Read more…)

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…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Labour Market Data Sitting on a Shelf

The Globe and Mail reports that the results of the Workplace Survey have sat on a shelf for two years due to cuts at Statistics Canada and a lack of funding from Employment and Social Development Canada.

This, while the Minister for ESDC says that Canada’s labour market information is inadequate and “we need better data”.

Perhaps the Minister can spare some of the advertising budget for the Canada Job Grant to analyse the data that the Canadian government has already spent $4.6 million to collect.

I had earlier expressed hope that the results of the Workplace Survey would soon be (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Why France’s Economic Problems Matter

I’ve had the good fortune to live in France for the past 10 months on a year-long sabbatical and therefore been able to witness firsthand the travails of the Socialist government as it wrestles with the country’s economic woes.

Indeed, the unpopularity of president Francois Hollande was exposed a couple of weeks ago after nation-wide municipal elections when his party and the left got routed, while the right and far-right triumphed.

Hollande responded by firing his prime minister and replacing him with the charismatic interior minister, Manuel Valls. Yet Valls comes from the right-wing of the Socialist Party, even calling (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Women’s Work

My mother says that when she graduated from high school in 1972, she had two occupational choices: nurse or teacher. Nurse and teacher are still the most popular choices for women entering the workforce. Statistics Canada said that more than 20% of all female university graduates in 2011 were teachers or nurses, unchanged from 1991.

Ontario’s Equal Pay Day got me thinking about women’s work, and the systemic reasons behind the stubborn pay gap. Aside from outright discrimination, occupational segregation and unpaid care demands contribute significantly to women’s lower wages.

Evan Soltas had an interesting piece for the American Equal (Read more…)