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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…)

Parchment in the Fire: The Disastrous Labor And Social Reforms In Spain

The Disastrous Labor And Social Reforms In Spain.

By Vincente Navarro

Spain, under pressure from the Troika (International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank) has gone through three major labor market reforms, presented to the public as necessary in order to reduce the scandalous high level of unemployment: 25% in general and 52% among the young.

Spain (and Greece) are on the top of the unemployment league. Since the beginning of the crisis, both the socialist (PSOE) and conservative (PP) governments have pursued reforms aimed at what they called ‘deregulation of the labor market,’ assuming that the problem (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: Myths of central banking

The Bank of Canada has been in the news lately – or, more precisely, the news has been full of other well-placed people telling our central bankers what to do. In an interview on CTV this past weekend, Jim Flaherty made comments (later retracted) that Canada’s central bank will be pressured to raise interest rates sooner rather than later. On Tuesday, the influential, pro-business Conference Board of Canada also came out with some advice. A Globe and Mail editorial written its chief economist suggested, somewhat surprisingly, that the Bank should target a higher level of inflation, up to 4% from (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Eurozone: A Sluggish economy offers no extra jobs – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology –

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Austerity, crisis, Europe, unemployment

The Progressive Economics Forum: Fewer Jobs Without People In 2013

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…)

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford put to rest any attempt to minimize the growth of inequality in Canada: (I)ncome inequality has reached a historic extreme. Inequality was high during the 1920s and 1930s (the “gilded age”), but fell sharply during the Second World War (as Canadians got back to work and taxes were raised to pay for the war effort). The three decades after the Second World War — a “golden age” of controlled capitalism — saw further decline in inequality. The economy was booming and powerful institutions (like progressive taxation and surging (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Only 36.5 per cent of unemployed Canadians now qualify for EI: NDP

by: Obert Madondo

Statistics Canada reported last week that Employment Insurance (EI) recipients dropped by 2.1% in July to 503 900 after the Harper government toughened the rules earlier this year.

The federal NDP calls the drop a “new historic low”, accuses the Harper Conservatives of cutting EI to deny Canadians “help when they need it the most.”

This press release:

Radical and mean-spirited Conservative cuts to EI, alongside weak job creation numbers, are denying Canadians help when they need it most.

A new Statistics Canada report has revealed that fewer unemployed Canadians than ever before now qualify for (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: More on alternate measures of unemployment

I’ve mentioned differences between Statistics Canada’s R8 measure and the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics’ U6 measure before, but I think it’s worth covering again.

R8 is Canada’s broadest measure of unemployment, and includes discouraged workers, workers waiting for a job to begin, and a portion of involuntary part-time. The most recent value for R8 was 10.3% in August, down slightly from 10.5% in August 2012 and 2011.

U6 is the U.S. Bureau’s broad measure of unemployment, and includes all workers who would like a job but aren’t looking, for any reason, and all involuntary (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Unemployment is higher than you think.

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…)

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: EI Benefits Falling Faster Than Unemployment

Statistics Canada reported today that 12,290 fewer Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in May compared to April. EI benefits are shrinking far faster than unemployment.

In percentage terms, the number of EI recipients declined as much in just the last month as unemployment declined over the past year. Between April and May, the number of unemployed Canadians decreased by only 1% while the number of EI beneficiaries decreased by 2.4%. Compared to May of last year, the number of unemployed workers was down by 2.4% but the number of EI beneficiaries was down by 7.4%.

We (Read more…)

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 Progressive Economics Forum: About those jobs without people, Minister Kenney

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…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Falling EI Benefits Amid Rising Unemployment

Statistics Canada reported today that 5,200 fewer Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in March, even though 6,800 more Canadians filed EI claims.

The Labour Force Survey indicates that 42,100 more Canadians were unemployed in March. In other words, the federal government provided benefits to fewer workers despite a spike in unemployment and more applications for benefits.

As a result, only 38% of unemployed Canadians received EI benefits (i.e. 523,700 beneficiaries out of 1,374,700 unemployed workers). To improve EI coverage in Canada’s weak job market, the federal government should increase the accessibility and duration of benefits for workers who (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Polozogistics: Nine Thoughts About the Choice of the New Bank of Canada Governor


1. He’s Number Two: Stephen Poloz was widely acknowledged in economic and political circles as the second-best choice for the top job at the Bank of Canada. So the surprise was not that he was chosen. The surprise was, Why Not Tiff Macklem? Will someone please find out and tell the rest of us?

2. Doctrinaire [or not?] on Inflation Targeting: He thinks it’s “sacrosanct.” Having studied with monetary policy guru David Laidler at the University of Western Ontario, and been part of the Bank of Canada team that brought inflation targeting to a neighbourhood near (Read more…)

The Political Road Map: The Great Academic Rejection of 2008-20??



Do you know what this is?

It is a count of the amount of days since my last job interview. A count that is used to monitor a continued hope that employment in my field or a career of some sort will be attainable under the current economy. As I have mentioned in previous entries, my current dilemma is the result of a University education. Look how I capitalize University, making it seem like this important, distinguished and enlightening experience. Well, the capitalization will now end, university is how it will remain forever.

I do not expect my university (Read more…)

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

350 or bust: Start A Garden, Change The World

Hope you are enjoying a relaxing long weekend Friday, as we are. One of the topics that has come up while we relax and sip our morning tea is the plans for our garden this summer. Besides just talking about it, my husband, also spent time this morning tending to his basil seedlings and babying [...]

Politics and its Discontents: Free Trade – Part 2

Continuing with the theme of yesterday’s post, I am taking the liberty of reproducing some letters that appear in today’s Star on free trade. They nicely puncture the myth, propagated and perpetuated by the right, of its unalloyed benefits to Canada:

Brian Mulroney and the harsh reality of Canada-U.S. free trade: Hepburn, Feb. 21

For many years before and after Brian Mulroney’s free trade agreement I worked as a mechanical engineer with consulting firms. During those years I was involved in the design of a number of food processing plants. At least four of the plants were “grassroots”

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Free Trade – Part 2

Politics and its Discontents: The Legend of Brian Mulroney

Actually, our former Prime Minister is more a legend in his own mind, but then, confronting harsh reality has never been one of Mr. Mulroney’s strong suits. His litigious past serves as ample testament to that fact.

But myth is always much more exciting than truth, and what better myth could Mulroney propagate than the one about the free-trade agreement his government negotiated 25 years ago with the United States? Last week, he made an appearance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman business school, where more than 700 guests gathered to commemorate his government’s ‘great’ achievement. In his usual

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Legend of Brian Mulroney

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canadians Giving Up on the World of Work

The glaring contrast between employment numbers, and the unemployment rate, was highlighted by today’s labour force numbers from Statistics Canada (capably dissected elsewhere on this blog by Angella MacEwan).

Paid employment (ie. employees) declined by 46,000. Total employment (including self-employment) fell by 22,000. Yet the unemployment rate fell to 7% — its lowest level since late 2008.

Fewer people were working, yet the unemployment rate declined. What gives?

Especially during times of economic weakness, the official unemployment rate is a bad measure of the state of the overall labour market, for familiar reasons: to qualify as (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Job Market Worsens in January

After five months of job gains, the job market turned dismal in January. Officially, the unemployment rate fell from 7.1% to 7.0%, the lowest it’s been since December 2008. This is despite a loss of 45,800 jobs (not counting self-employment). The explanation is an out flux of discouraged workers from the labour market, which caused the ‘real’ unemployment rate (R8) to jump from 9.4% to 10.7%.

Gains in self-employment masked the job losses, as there was an increase of nearly 24,000 self-employed persons in January, for an official loss of 22,000, nearly all in full-time positions. Ontario suffered

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Job Market Worsens in January

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Saturday reading.

- Hamida Ghafour writes about the effect of tax avoidance by the world’s wealthy on the lives of the rest of the population – particularly when coupled with austerity pushed based on a lack of revenue: The OECD is a fierce defender of free-market capitalism. But Saint-Amans says politicians are realizing that rules set up in the 1920s need reform because allowing corporations and the very rich to hang on to huge amounts of wealth is bad for the economy. “When you have a political crisis, I am sad to say it, you . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links