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…)
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 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…)
The December jobs report was a spectacular finish (not in a good way) to a rather discouraging year for the Canadian labour market. When the dust had settled, it turned out that employment growth averaged 8,500 per month in 2013, compared with 25,900 in 2012.
This anaemic job growth was not enough to keep up with the growth in the labour force, as on average, 10,500 new jobseekers entered the labour market each month in 2013. Even more disappointing, 80% of job growth over the year was in part-time work.
Young workers and men age 25-54 bore the brunt of the labour market slowdown. Only workers over 55 saw an (Read more…)
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…)
The most recent Jobs Vacancy statistics are out, and the trend for 2013 so far has been a reduction in the number of job vacancies reported by businesses compared to 2012. The number of job vacancies reported by businesses fell by 41,000 between September 2012 and September 2013, so that even though there were fewer unemployed workers in September 2013, there were more unemployed workers per job vacancy. This has been true for every month in 2013 so far.
Data for the Job Vacancy survey started to be collected in January 2011, but it’s released as a three-month rolling (Read more…)
Further to Erin’s post, the Labour Force Survey numbers released by Statistics Canada on December 6 give the lie to the Harper government’s frequently heard claim that our economy is doing well.
Over the past year, between November, 2012 and November, 2013, ALL of the net new jobs created in Canada were in the lowest paid and most insecure occupational group, sales and service jobs.
There were just 172,400 new jobs created over this period. But sales and service employment rose by 191,700.
These jobs pay an average of just $16.50 per hour.
Reflecting that shift to lower quality (Read more…)
Statistics Canada reported that employment grew by 22,000 in November. But 20,000 of those new jobs were part-time. The proportion of all Canadian jobs that are part-time rose to an even 19%.
Broken down another way, 19,000 of the employment increase were people reporting themselves as self-employed. Canadian employers actually hired fewer than 3,000 additional employees last month.
Part-time work and self-reported self-employment kept the official unemployment rate just under 7% for a third consecutive month, but hardly suggest a vibrant job market.
The longer-term trend is still that Canadian employers are creating barely enough jobs to keep pace (Read more…)
On November 25th, I made the following submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-4, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2, on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
1. Introduction and Context
Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Committee, as Members of Parliament review the second budget implementation bill for the budget of 2013.
It is a particular honour to appear as a witness, since this committee will only hear eight hours of testimony from witnesses — including one hour from the Finance Minister — over (Read more…)
I have been hard on our new Employment and Social Development Minister, Jason Kenney, for buying into a widespread myth about labour shortages and skill mismatches in Canada. So, to give credit where credit is due, it appears Minister Kenney has been listening to the growing chorus of voices disputing the existence of a labour shortage in Canada.
Surprisingly (or not), Minister Kenney turns to a simple market solution to business complaints of difficulty finding candidates: raise wages. “The single most powerful tool employers have to address labour skill shortages is raising wage levels,” Kenney reportedly told his business audience. (Read more…)
The words “little change” appear eight times in today’s Statistics Canada press release on the Labour Force Survey.
The figures for October are indeed remarkably similar to September. This lack of change might be viewed as welcome stability in better economic times, but it has to be regarded as stagnation given the actual state of Canada’s job market.
Unemployment remained at 1,325,000, exactly the same as in September and well above its pre-recession level.
And that official figure excludes hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have dropped out of the labour market altogether. The participation rate remained 66.4%, its (Read more…)
Today, Statistics Canada reported an unemployment rate of 6.9% for September. One might have expected Canada’s unemployment rate falling below 7% for the first time since 2008 to be cause for celebration.
But as Statistics Canada noted, the decline in official unemployment reflected youth dropping out of the job market rather than any notable increase in employment. Of course, one would expect many young people to leave the job market as they return to school in September.
However, Statistics Canada adjusts the figures to factor out such routine changes. Today’s seasonally adjusted figures indicate that 21,000 more young Canadians (Read more…)
I have the following opinion piece in the latest (September 2013) edition of The Commonwealth, accompanied by this disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the official position of the Saskatchewan NDP.”
Comparing the NDP and Sask. Party Employment Records
Right-wing politicians often win elections by presenting themselves as good economic managers. British Columbia’s provincial election was the latest example of how the right’s rhetorical focus on the economy can derail the NDP.
It also illustrated how simply being cautious and saying little about economic issues is an ineffective defence. New Democrats must challenge (Read more…)
Most of us know the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s why we’re told by teachers to keep our kids home from school when they’re sick, so they get better and they don’t get others sick as well. It’s why there’s increased focus on leading healthy lives, prevention and wellness.
However, the benefits of prevention seem to have been neglected in recent reports over the absenteeism in the workplace. Last week, Statistics Canada released a report showing that while public sector workers took more time off for sickness and family leave, most (Read more…)
Today, Statistics Canada reported a large monthly drop of 10,900 for July in the number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Its press release noted, “This decline brings the number of beneficiaries to a level similar to that observed before the start of the labour-market downturn in 2008.”
But the number of unemployed workers remains stuck at 1.4 million, far above the 1.1 million before the financial crisis. The federal government has cut EI to pre-recession levels even though the job market remains in recession.
The proportion of officially unemployed Canadians receiving EI is down (Read more…)
Every month, Statistics Canada comes out with the unemployment rate, and every month it gets a lot of attention. But the unemployment rate provides quite limited information about the actual health of the labour market.
The addition of two other pieces of information nearly doubles the unemployment rate: the proportion of the labour market employed part-time but looking for more work, and the proportion that would like a job but aren’t actively looking for work, and so aren’t officially counted as being in the labour market.
The chart above shows the national annual average for July – August (just to (Read more…)
Today, Statistics Canada reported that employment increased in August, although two-thirds of the additional jobs were part-time positions. The part-time rate rose to 19%, its highest level in more than a year.
Job growth has also been “part-time” in the sense that only a few months this year have seen meaningful employment gains. Over the past six months, employers have added an average of only 12,000 jobs per month – not nearly enough to keep pace with the growth of Canada’s working-age population, let alone reduce unemployment.
Today’s Labour Force Survey also indicates that wages slowed to a crawl in (Read more…)
I am still catching my breath from one of the wildest weeks in my life: all the events that culminated in the founding convention last weekend in Toronto of Unifor (formed from the combination of the CAW and the CEP). The new union will represent over 300,000 members working in over 20 different defined economic sectors. It is not just a private sector union — there are 35,000 or more members in various public sector capacities (including health care, transportation, and utilities). So it isn’t quite right to call Unifor the “largest private sector union” in Canada (Read more…)
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…)
Statistics Canada reported a loss of 39,000 jobs in July, even as Canada’s working-age population grew by 39,000. As a result, unemployment rose and many Canadians withdrew from the labour market altogether.
The decline reflected a loss of 74,000 public-sector jobs, which was only partly offset by modest growth in private-sector employment and self-employment. There have been some doubts about erratic employment changes in educational services reported by the Labour Force Survey during summer months. However, July’s public-sector plummet was driven more by healthcare, social assistance and public administration than by educational services.
One month does not make a (Read more…)
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…)
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…)
Upon being appointed Minister of the newly renamed “Employment and Social Development” (formerly HRSDC), Mr. Kenney tweeted his view on the Canadian labour market:
“I will work hard to end the paradox of too many people without jobs in an economy that has too many jobs without people. #shuffle13“
Coincidentally, perhaps, the most recent Statistics Canada numbers on job vacancies came out this morning. Compared to a year ago, there were 20,000 fewer job vacancies in Canada this April, and only 1.6% of all jobs were unfilled at the end of the month. Even in booming Alberta the ratio (Read more…)
Statistics Canada recently released new data on the incomes of Canadians and it shows two worrisome trends continuing through the economic recovery:
BC has the highest poverty rate in Canada and the highest child poverty rate (tied with Manitoba); and Ordinary families haven’t had a raise since 2008 – family incomes in the middle continue to stagnate (more on this tomorrow).
Both of these tell us that we’re doing a lousy job at sharing prosperity, leaving too many people behind and in the process undermining our future economic health.
So far, only the poverty statistics have generated much media coverage, (Read more…)