Full-Time and Part-Time Jobs

The Canadian Labour Congress is one of several institutions that comments on Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey. As the Ottawa Sun reported last week, a striking fact in the latest release was the net loss of 10,000 full-time positions in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland in January.

  

February 10, 2007

Job numbers game

Rising employment figures don’t tell true story of cooling economy

By ANNE HOWLAND

All jobs are not created equal.

Yesterday, Statistics Canada reported that the overall jobless rate moved up to 6.2% from 6.1% in December because more people had joined the workforce. So that’s the kinda bad news.

At the same time, Canada added a flabbergasting 88,900 jobs in January, almost nine times the number forecast. Sound good? On the surface, yes. But in reality, maybe not.

. . .

Canadian Labour Congress economist Erin Weir pointed out yesterday that, since October 2006, two-thirds of new jobs created in Canada have been part-time positions.

Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador collectively lost more than 10,000 full-time jobs in January, Weir found.

DECLINING JOB QUALITY

“More big numbers, some good news, yet much disappointment for those of us who believe that a job should bring economic security and improve the quality of life,” said Ken Georgetti, president of the CLC.

CIBC World Markets also calculated that its employment quality index has declined in the past six months to its lowest level since the early 1990s, adding that, even in booming Alberta, employment quality has fallen.

CIBC noted that 60% of new jobs created during the past six months were self-employed positions, as opposed to paid positions.

“The reduction in job quality helps explain why seemingly large increases in the total number of jobs have translated into only modest economic growth,” the bank concluded.

It’s not good news for workers, either. Nationwide, average hourly wages rose by 2.2% between January 2006 and January 2007, the CLC noted. Outside Western Canada, the increase was only 1.5%, barely keeping pace with inflation.

“It is truly good news that Statistics Canada can report real growth in employment for aboriginal workers and it is good news that 89,000 new jobs were created last month,” the CLC said. “However, most of the new jobs are part-time, most of them are in activities where wages are usually low and employment security questionable.”

The manufacturing industry is one of the most telling when it comes to unsettling employment numbers. The CLC pointed out that the continuing loss of manufacturing employment in central Canada completely offset manufacturing employment created in western Canada, including 6,000 new jobs in Alberta last month.

Since the peak of November 2002, the country has lost more than 210,000 manufacturing jobs.

So while the StatsCan data looks good on the surface, the fact remains that last month, in seasonally adjusted numbers, there were still 1,096,500 Canadians who wanted to work but did not have a job in January.

And monthly ticks aside, a longer-term trend of deteriorating job quality could be at least one reason behind why optimistic employment numbers need to be taken with Flaherty’s proverbial grain of salt.

For the full article, click here.

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