The Travails of Toronto
TD Economics have released an interesting if rather thin report on the Toronto recovery. I say thin because, while there is not a wealth of current data, we do get labour market data for the huge Toronto Census Metropolitan Area. As they show, there has been a huge loss of manufacturing jobs in the region, offset to a degree by recent job gains – unfortunately, often part time – in other sectors.Â And there are major grounds for concern that a lot of lower income Toronto residents are facing a pretty tough time now and moving forward.
In August (which I use since we have EI data for that month also) the Toronto CMA had an above average unemployment rate of 9.1% (using the three month moving average.) Strikingly, that translates into the fact that almost exactly one in five unemployed Canadians (300,000 of 1,511,000) lived in the Toronto CMA.
Statscan EI data – which TD did not look at for some reason – show that less than one in three of those Toronto unemployed workers were collecting regular EI benefits in August compared to 45% nationally. Strikingly, Toronto had one in five of the unemployed in Canada, but less than one in seven (13.7%) of Canada’s regular EI beneficiaries in August.Â (The EI data are notÂ seasonally adjusted while the unemployment data are, but I don’t think that makes much of a difference since the same pattern was evident last time I looked in the Winter.)
I keep hoping that someone (HRSDC? the Ontario government? the City of Toronto, the Mowat Centre? – all step forward) will take on as a research project this key question – just why do so few of Toronto’s many unemployed workers qualify for EI?
My hypotheses? Following a huge shakeout of manufacturing jobs even before the recession, unemployed workersÂ could only find part-time and temporary jobs which failed to requalify them when they they again become unemployed.Â Temporary and part-time jobs are particularly prevalent in the “post industrial” Toronto economy. And recent immigrants (who make up a much bigger than average proportion of the Toronto workforce) face a high (was 840 hours, now back to 910 hours) entrance requirement, translating into about 6 months of full-time work.
Good on TD for scratching the surface. But it is time to dig deeper.