MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta should increase social spending; cuts are not the way to go

(June 24, 2019-Calgary) With Alberta’s economy still facing challenges and vulnerabilities, the Alberta government should not be doling out tax cuts or cutting social spending, according to the Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) released today. “Alberta still has, by far, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any province,” says Nick Falvo, editor of the report. “We are in a good position to […]

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Can Capitalists Afford a Trumped Recovery? Guest post by Jonathan Nitzan & Shimshon Bichler

This provocative guest post submitted by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, was published earlier this year on their bnarchives website.  Nitzan, professor of political economy at York University, and Bichler, who teaches political economy in Israel, are authors of Capital as Power, a Study of Order and Creorder and numerous related articles. To quote from the statement of purpose of the […]

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Of Rising Tides and Sinking Boats

Recently, Minister Kenney took to twitter to defend his decision to limit the number of precarious workers entering Alberta through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Again, the minister is to be applauded for his grasp of the situation. His changes do little to fix the actual problem though. The evidence that he cited was the lack of wage growth among […]

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Should Welfare Recipients Try Harder to Find Work?

This morning the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation released a new report about “motivational interviewing” for welfare recipients.  The link to the full report is here, and the link to the executive summary is here. Authored by Reuben Ford, Jenn Dixon, Shek-wai Hui, Isaac Kwakye and Danielle Patry, the study reports on a recent randomized controlled trial done on long-term […]

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Jobs Up, But Hours Flat

On the surface, today’s employment numbers simply continue a recent trend: employers added some jobs but not enough to keep pace with Canada’s growing labour force. As a result, unemployment edged back up to 7%. But just below the surface were some even worse developments. Employers actually cut 29,000 full-time positions while adding 55,000 part-time positions in May. Over the […]

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Women’s Work

My mother says that when she graduated from high school in 1972, she had two occupational choices: nurse or teacher. Nurse and teacher are still the most popular choices for women entering the workforce. Statistics Canada said that more than 20% of all female university graduates in 2011 were teachers or nurses, unchanged from 1991. Ontario’s Equal Pay Day got […]

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Dutch Disease, Prices and Wages in Saskatchewan

Jim Stanford recently pointed out that many of the conservative economists who had defended the overvalued loonie have quickly shifted to applauding its depreciation. The Government of Saskatchewan may be making a similar conversion on the road to Damascus. When federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed concern about Dutch disease, premier Brad Wall denied that the high exchange rate was […]

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StatCan Debunks Small-Business Mythology

Canadian economic commentators often worship small business as the supposed source of economic dynamism and growth. This cult of small business has greatly influenced public policy, with federal and provincial governments giving huge tax preferences to small corporations. But new Statistics Canada research finds: “The gap between the levels of labour productivity in Canada and the United States is due […]

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Raise Wages, Train Workers

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), […]

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Fossil-Fueled GDP Growth

Yesterday, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy had a month of fossil-fueled growth in August. Overall GDP was up by 0.3%, only half as much as in July but still a respectable monthly growth rate. By far the strongest growth of any industry was a 1.9% increase in “Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction” – its fastest growth […]

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Part-Time Growth in a “Hamster Wheel” Job Market

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 […]

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Inflation Eats Up Three-Quarters of Wage Gains

Today, Statistics Canada reported an annual inflation rate of 1.3% for July. By comparison, it reports that the average hourly wage rose by 1.8% between July 2012 and July 2013. In other words, even anemic inflation is eating up nearly three-quarters of wage increases. On average, Canadian workers have eked out only a 0.5% improvement in purchasing power over the […]

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Funding Cuts to Alberta’s PSE Sector: There Are Alternatives

It has recently been reported that the University of Alberta wants to “reopen two-year collective agreements” with faculty and staff “to help the university balance its budget…” This appears to be in direct response to Alberta’s provincial government announcing in its March budget that there would be a “7% cut to operating grants to universities, colleges, and technical institutes.” This […]

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Inflation Eats Up More Than Half of Wage Gains

Today, Statistics Canada reported an inflation rate of 1.2% for June, validating the Bank of Canada’s recent decision to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future. The rationale to raise interest rates would be to curb inflation, which is already under control and well below the central bank’s 2% target. But even at 1.2%, inflation eats up more than […]

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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 […]

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Today’s Job Numbers: The Bad and The Ugly

The headline numbers are bad enough: “employment declined by 55,000 in March, all in full time. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%.” The underlying numbers are ugly. The employment decline would have been worse but for a large jump in self-reported self-employment. The number of employees with positions paid by an employer actually fell by 93,100 in […]

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Boost the Minimum Wage, Boost the Economy

A version of this article appeared today in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab. (This version includes references to the debate plus charts and graphs from data specially tabulated from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The data don’t include the self-employed.) President Obama put the idea of raising the minimum wage on the radar in the U.S. It deserves to […]

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Welcome to the Wageless Recovery

The Harper government likes to remind Canadians that we’ve done better than most developed nations in bouncing back from the global economic crisis. But digging into the data shows why many people might be having trouble cheering this news: wages have not kept pace with inflation, and new hires are making 40 per cent less than the average worker. Tiff […]

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Ontario hiding savings from lower interest rates

The Ontario government Fall Economic Statement and Fiscal Review ignores and hides billions savings the province will gain from lower borrowing rates in coming years. While this statement acknowledges that borrowing rates will be considerably lower in coming years–and more than 100 basis points lower in 2014–their forecast of debt interest costs (on page 85) is identical to what Ontario’s […]

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Income Inequality & twitter

Armine Yalnizyan had a great twitter debate with Andrew Coyne on poverty and inequality that Trish Hennessey storified here: http://bit.ly/QwHGJB I think it bears repeating that GDP growth has far outpaced any growth in median and average incomes for Canadians, as you can see in the graph below. (2010 dollars, average and median income in $’s, GDP in $10,000 dollars.) Also, […]

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The End of Men?

The Globe and Mail on Saturday devoted two pages of its Focus section to a discussion of Hanna Rosin’s book, The End of Men. There are a few interesting anecdotes on changing sex roles, but there are no facts cited to substantiate the argument that North America is seeing the rise of a matriarchy as women have displaced men in […]

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