Todayâ€™s Labour Force Survey and Coming Layoffs
The Canadian Labour CongressÂ news release follows:
Employment statistics: no plan for coming layoffs, Georgetti says
OTTAWA â€“ “With so many high profile layoffs announced recently that have yet to come into effect, it is hard to find consolation in the modest employment creation statistics for the last month,” says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress in regard to Statistics Canadaâ€™s latest report on the jobs situation in the country.
“Working families welcome every announcement that unemployment is contained. However everyone knows that thousands of layoffs have been announced in the sectors where the best jobs are. We all bemoan that our federal government has no plan and no willingness to prevent further layoff announcements or stimulate the creation of good permanent jobs that pay good wages and benefits,” Georgetti explained
The unemployment numbers â€“ Statistics Canadaâ€™s Labour Force Survey reports that in August 2007, last month, the unemployment remained at 6.0%, the same as in July. The economy created a modest 23,000 jobs but there were new losses in the manufacturing sector. Moreover, in the countryâ€™s largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, there were net losses of full time employment. In August, there were 1,075,600 Canadians who wanted to work but did not have a job.
Economist Erin Weirâ€™s Analysis
Manufacturing Crisis Continues
After a slight recovery in July, the beleaguered manufacturing sector lost 3,200 jobs in August. In total, 291,500 manufacturing jobs have disappeared since November 2002.
Central Canada Loses Full-Time Jobs
Although total employment increased, Ontario and Quebec lost full-time jobs in August. In Ontario, an apparent gain of 9,300 positionsÂ masked a loss of 5,200 full-time jobs combined with 14,500 more part-time jobs. In Quebec, an apparent gain of 1,400 positionsÂ masked a loss of 5,000 full-time jobs combined with 6,400 more part-time jobs.
The unemployment rate increased in Quebec. Ontarioâ€™s unemployment rate decreased partly because 6,300 people withdrew from the labour force.
Youth Employment Down
In contrast to previous months, employment among workers between the ages of 15 and 24 decreased by 9,500 full-time jobs in August. Part-time youth employment remained unchanged. Since these figures are seasonally-adjusted, they do not mainly reflect students leaving jobs at this time of year before returning to school.
Waiting for he inflection point? Will it ever be reached again, given the current labour market.
My point is, will we ever see employment decline in some kind of recessionary tradition that we are accustomed to or given the increase in low quality employment, are we witnessing the end effect of the 20 year neo-con project. Low paying, non-union, low employer attachment, labour engagement practices permeated throughout the economic landscape. Instead of some kind of traditional job loss reflected in the statistics , we may actually expect to see job growth. High quality jobs like manufacturing losing out to lower quality jobs at the local big box retailer. Being these wages are so low, and we are the tail on the American dog, we are creating a quite healthy investment climate for companies looking for a low wage workforce to put some brick and mortar around. Is it sustainable to a level that you would actually see job growth in an economic downturn.
I am sure of couple of things in this high wire act. There are substantial job cuts in the heart of the economy, (manufacturing), these all have payroll multipliers that are highly correlated to the continuance and health of other jobs within the economy. Their has been some other sectors that have bulked up the employment numbers to mask these drops. A healthly resources extraction industry and its multipliers in western Canada, but the numbers are relatively small compared to Ontario and Quebec’s labour market numbers. We have an increasingly growing knowledge economy. However these again are small compared to the rest of the economy, and to some extent a good portion of these are the downstream jobs of the manufacturing sector. And lastly we do have some unprecedented large numbers in construction sector employment. This mainly due to the low interest rates that we once enjoyed and are slowly rising to squash the house buying incentives, that spawned this builder’s boon. (just look south to see the impact the slow housing market is having on the construction sector)
Okay so it might be unconventional thinking and some of the numbers are missing in the above. However somewhere in the qualitative, a chart is being laid out for the quantitative to follow.
This article naturally leads to the question, are all jobs created equally? Is a manufacturing job equal to a job at Wal-Mart or Subway? Obviously in many ways the answer is no. A manufacturing job generally pays significantly more and provides a lot more benefits. A job at Wal-Mart or Subway cannot usually provide enough for a full family.
The secondary issue that this brings up is how we calculate the unemployment rate. While the unemployment rate may not fall (ie. the people who used to work in manufacturing now work in retail or services), but the quality of their employment certainly did. Perhaps we need some form of an underemployment rate? I’m sure the results would be too discouraging.
Now, I don’t believe in protecting jobs that have no future (don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting all manufacturing jobs fit here – some of them maybe), rather we need to provide some form of support for people who have lost their job, or have been forced to take a much lower paying job. This is where I like Thomas Friedman (from “The World is Flat”) suggesting some form of wage insurance.
I was always taught that the world was round and am not too sure about Mr. Friedman’s notion about the flatness of the world.
I think many people are writing off whole sectors in our economy in some fatalistic fallacy that manufacturing is in its twilight. If you look at the growth out of the last major recession of the early ’90s in manufacturing you must conclude that many were pundits similar to today were suggesting that manufacturing in developed economies was in its twilight, yet within 8 years we ended up adding over 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Given the needs and requirements of the future potential of an eco-friendly economy, there will hopefully be a huge round of innovation within manufacturing that could lay witness to some impressive growth. However, it will take investment and leadership. There is a future for manufacturing in Canada and it will take leadership to turn the current downward trajectory around.
Wage insurance does exist in Canada, or at least it did, it was called UIC. It is now just window dressing for the concept of wage insurance. Retraining and training institutions are needed to get towards these innovative potentials and it is surely quite tragic that we have such a vacuum currently for those displaced from work. Which I do not understand as there is no end of talk about training and the learning culture and the knowledge economy, and such. It just never seems to get the walk to meet this talk. Especially at the federal level as with the current regime on the hill.