The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're Better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
There have indeed been more than one million jobs created since mid-2009 when the recovery began. But the job market in Canada is still far weaker than was the case before the recession.
The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
The number in that claim is carefully chosen, and taken in isolation is factually correct. In the five years of recovery from June 2009 to June 2014, total employment indeed rose by 1,091,400 jobs.
But if we do the count from June 2008, before the onset of the recession and the big job losses it caused, the increase in employment to date has been a more modest 753,000 jobs. And the national unemployment rate in June 2014 was, at 7.1%, still significantly higher than the average of 6.0% in 2007 and 6.1% in 2008.
As scandals about abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program break with increasing regularity, the spotlight still overlooks the exploitation that workers face just to get jobs under that program.
A new report from the Metcalf Foundation reveals that migrant workers regularly pay thousands of dollars in recruiting fees — equal to as much as two to three years’ wages in their home currency — to work in minimum wage jobs in Ontario.
A close look at today's labour force numbers indicates that fewer Canadians in all age groups are either working or are unemployed and actively seeking work.
While it is influenced by demographic trends such as an aging population, a falling participation rate is generally a sign that people have given up looking for jobs due to a low level of hiring by employers.
In 1939, the United States and much of the world were still struggling to exit the Great Depression that had begun a decade earlier. In that context, Alvin Hansen – the prominent economist and disciple of John Maynard Keynes – famously argued before the American Economic Association that the underlying problem was not cyclical, but rather “secular stagnation.”
Mr. Hansen anticipated an extended period of sluggish growth and high unemployment, due to a structural shortage of demand compared with already existing productive capacity. Under such circumstances, there were few profitable investment opportunities for business, resulting in excess savings and idle resources.
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 of unfilled jobs to total labour demand fell from 3.5% last April to 2.5% this April.
Brian Lee Crowley’s recent column in the Globe and Mail shows that he's a glass-half-full kinda guy. He says 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 the 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 actually fallen, indicating that any wage growth has been limited to a few at the top end.