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  • Report looks at captured nature of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission August 6, 2019
    From an early stage, BC’s Oil and Gas Commission bore the hallmarks of a captured regulator. The very industry that the Commission was formed to regulate had a significant hand in its creation and, too often, the interests of the industry it regulates take precedence over the public interest. This report looks at the evolution […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Correcting the Record July 26, 2019
    Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct. The […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Rental Wage in Canada July 18, 2019
    Our new report maps rental affordability in neighbourhoods across Canada by calculating the “rental wage,” which is the hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of one’s earnings.  Across all of Canada, the average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $22.40/h, or $20.20/h for an average one […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada July 9, 2019
    CCPA senior economist David Macdonald co-authored a new report, Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released by Upstream Institute in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016. The report is available for […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Fossil-Power Top 50 launched July 3, 2019
    What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common? They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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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 part-time workers.

Statistics Canada leaves out some marginally attached workers that BLS includes. They also calculate involuntary part-time in full-time equivalents (FTE), even though neither employment or unemployment are measured in FTE. And, for R8, Statistics Canada only includes a portion of involuntary part time.

Aside from making R8 more restrictive than U6, this also makes it harder to replicate. U6 is very easy to calculate from other data that Statistics Canada provides.


All three measures follow the same broad trend over the past 16 years, but there are some small differences. The gap between R4 and R8 is still higher than it was before the recession, but sits pretty close to its average since 1997. The gap between R4 and U6 sits at 7 percentage points, slightly higher than its 16 year average of 6.5 percentage points.

A look at the trends in the types of marginally attached people that get counted or not counted in R8 add some additional insight. The two types of marginally attached categories that are counted in R8 have fallen from nearly half of all marginally attached workers down to only 15%. Over the same period ‘school’ and ‘other’ have gone from 35%  to 55% of the total.

MA by reason

Aside from fun with numbers, what’s the point here exactly?

Well, unemployment is higher than it was pre-recession by any measure.  And when we’re talking about ratios of job vacancies to unemployment, it’s important to remind interested readers that ratio is much higher using broader measures of unemployment. For every job vacancy in Canada this summer, there were 6.3 people actively looking for a job and another 6.7 who wanted more work.

This matters for policy. Case in point is EI, where coverage has fallen to another all time low. The number of people receiving EI is nearing 2008 levels, but the number of unemployed remains significantly higher.

Given the frequency with which the current government and its allies go on about all those “jobs without people”, I think a regular examination of all the people without jobs is in order.

Enjoy and share:


Comment from Angella MacEwen
Time: September 23, 2013, 9:36 am

For a more thorough analysis of Canadian and American trends of labour underutilization, see Sam Boshra’s post at Economic Justice:

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