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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…)

Political Eh-conomy: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program and labour solidarity

Yesterday, I took a look at the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and how it helps enforce labour discipline on all workers, and low-wage workers in particular. Today, I want to explore the migration side of the migrant worker equation. The context of migration not only makes it easier for employers to exploit TFWs, it also serves to obscure the common core of labour solidarity that should be at the basis of responses to the greater labour discipline that the TFWP enables.

The expansion of the TFWP and its increasing application to low-wage work has occurred alongside other changes (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The Temporary Foreign Workers Program and labour market discipline

While it is a truism that migrant labour built Canada, this same migrant labour has long been used to discipline domestic workers. Both facts are imprinted into the history of Canada. Today is no different and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is at the centre of debates about migrant labour. Often missing from the debate are the deep links between labour policy, (im)migration policy and the ways these interact to undermine the power and solidarity of workers.

The TFWP has become a lightning rod of criticism as details emerge of the private sector hiring temporary foreign workers (TFWs) for (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: About those people without jobs …

Statistics Canada released their latest job vacancy data today, giving us the three month average ending in January 2014. There were 6.7 unemployed workers for every job vacancy, higher than the past two Januaries. Counting un(der)employed workers gives us a ratio of 14.2 un(der)employed workers for every job vacancy.

That’s a lot of workers without jobs.

The higher ratio is mostly because of a fall in the number of job vacancies reported by businesses. Breaking down job vacancies by province shows that the difference between 2014 and 2013 is mostly due to a fall in the number of (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: Where the jobs at?

Mark it in your calendars folks, today, March 25, 2014 is the day that the Canadian labour shortage** myth officially died. (It may, of course, be resurrected as a zombie).

Responding to a Parliamentary Budget Office report that refutes the existence of a labour shortage or skills mismatch in Canada, Jason Kenney claims the government never suggested any such thing.

Jason Kenney ‏on March 25th, 2014 “@kenneyjason 1/ We consistently say the aggregate labour market information indicates there is *not* a general labour shortage in Canada @globepolitics“

Except that Minister Finley repeatedly suggested that it was one of (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: How to calculate un(der)employment

For my day job, I wrote a thing about underemployment in Canada. I thought that it might be useful to post my method here so that other interested parties could calculate it for themselves.

The headline unemployment rate counts all those who are unemployed, available to start work, and actively looking for a job. The internationally accepted measure of the unmet need for employment includes those who are unemployed and adds those who are partially employed but want more hours, those who aren’t able to start work right away, and those who are discouraged from actively looking, but would accept (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: StatCan Reports Fewest Vacant Jobs on Record

Statistics Canada reported today that there were only 199,700 vacant jobs in December 2013, the fewest recorded since it first reported these figures for March 2011.

Statistics Canada began tracking job vacancies in response to claims of a labour shortage by governments and corporate Canada. But the number of vacancies falling below 200,000 casts further doubt on the notion that Canada is suffering from a shortage of workers.

The real problem is a shortage of jobs. Statistics Canada calculates that there are 6.3 unemployed workers per available job.

Policymakers should focus on creating jobs and providing adequate benefits to (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: IWD 2014: The “girl effect” reduces inequality, but Canada can’t coast on that much longer

Every year when International Women’s Day rolls by, I can’t help but reflect on power, how it’s shared, and how women use the power they have. This year, I am struck by women’s power to reduce inequality, and not just to help ourselves. Women are key to reducing income inequality.

It’s been dubbed the girl effect, more powerful than the Internet, science, the government, and even money.

Canada is actually a poster girl (sorry) for the truth that education and hard work can transform not just lives but societies.

Look around the world and you’ll see a tight relationship (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Young Workers Needed So Much More from Budget 2014

Recessions are always harder on young workers, but we are nearly five years out from the end of the last recession and there is still no recovery in sight for young workers.

Between October 2008 and January 2014, there was an increase of 100,000 unemployed young workers (15-29), so that there are now 540,000 unemployed young workers. Even more startling, over 350,000 young workers left the labour force over that period. It has been estimated that between 150,000 and 300,000 young workers participate in unpaid internships each year in Canada.

The paid internships announced in this budget (some of which (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada’s Job Market: Slower, Lower, Weaker

The following commentary on yesterday’s job numbers is quoted in today’s National Post (page FP4):

The Olympic motto may be “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” but Canada’s employment growth is slower, lower and weaker going into the winter games.

Of the 29,000 Canadians who supposedly gained employment in January, 28,000 reported being self-employed. Only 1,000 found jobs paid by an employer.

While self-employment includes some high-income professionals and entrepreneurs, the jump in self-employment in the context of a poor job market suggests that many Canadians are trying to eke out income through contract work because employers are not offering paid (Read more…)