Ontario Unemployment Hits All-Time High

According to today’s Labour Force Survey, the national unemployment increase (83,800) was twice the employment decrease (41,800) in May. The explanation is that the labour force expanded by 42,000 as Canada’s population continued to grow. While some people are entering the labour market and getting jobs, many more are being laid off.

As a result, total unemployment blew past the 1.5-million mark. More Canadian workers were jobless in May 2009 than in any month since May 1994. In other words, unemployment has hit a fifteen-year high.

Most of May’s unemployment surge occurred in Ontario (49,500). Significantly, the number of unemployed Ontarians (670,700) surpassed the previous record set in September 1992 (640,400).

Ontario unemployment has reached its highest level ever. And the recession is far from over, at least as far as the labour market is concerned.

Despite hope that the worst may be over in terms of declines in output (real GDP), today’s unemployment numbers indicate that stronger stimulus programs will be needed to create jobs. Employment Insurance must be enhanced to provide adequate benefits to the unemployed.

Wages Under Pressure

Not surprisingly, wage figures are less grim than employment figures. Employers can lay off workers anytime, but normally only set wage rates periodically. However, the Labour Force Survey already suggests some downward pressure on wages.

Canada’s average hourly wage slipped to $21.87 in May, its lowest level since December. Ontario’s average slipped to $22.63, also its lowest since December. While wages are still higher than last year, Statistics Canada notes that this is “the lowest year-over-year increase in two years.”

Monday’s first-quarter GDP numbers confirmed that a lower level of employment reduced total labour income, and hence the purchasing power of households. However, if less employment is combined with falling wages, the effect on labour income and consumer spending could be devastating.

UPDATE (June 6): Quoted by The Toronto Star


  • The scary number that I have been watching for the past several months and is continuing dramatic drop in goods producing industries- over 300K in the last year.

    We would have had a drop in employment of over -60k if it were not again for growth in retail and wholesale trade, public service and that almighty service sector called “Other Services”. (The only NAICS category that has shown any resilience over this economic crisis in the past year as it has grown by 58K.) Potentially this is the new green economy service sector- but I highly doubt it, more likely private security services.

    (can you believe that they redesigned the service sector NAICS and still one of the major categories is “Other”)

    I still do not understand how a green shoot is supposed to sprout from such a desert wasteland of employment numbers.

    However, credit capitalism may yet have some new instruments that bend back the boundaries of traditional thoughts on consumption.


    my thought of the day-

    during the day I wonder if workers are aware of that metabolically precise moment when they start expending labour power where the profit is sucked into the swill for those chosen few on the upper modality of the income scale who, cloaked within the nakedness of a thinly layered, commodified artistically barren media- harvest and define all those precious life worlds. I feel the pain in my back at just about 11:13 each day.

  • I find it interesting that Ontario’s Unemployment rate is 9.4% – the exact same rate as it is in the U.S. I think this demonstrates the perils of having an economy so closely tied to the U.S.

  • I have been reading and listening to some of the spotlighted American economists over the past couple of days and must say that there is a growing 1937 fear.

    That is, the green shoots which have appeared, were one not really there and any that were there were picked before they could grow.

    i.e. the positivist economic discourse got way ahead of the negative reality, and through the mirrored reality that many policy makers private and public started acting in a means to working of some neo con worries about the long run structural problems at the expense of the short run hell world for consumption.

    Damn those ne0-con inflation hawks sure are quite efficient at picking the meat off the skinniest looking squirrels flattened on the road that I have ever seen in my life.

    I think we all need to be reminded of something, policy wise we never did get our asses out of the ditch in the 30’s, it was Adolf Hitler that did it. I am deadly serious when I say this, Hitler saved capitalism! It was not a new deal, it was not Fordism, it was not keysianism, it was WAR, from a failed attempt at policy makers to resurrect a flat lined economy.

    Living through this green shoot bullshit, I now see very clear glimpses of how the failed attempts by political and economic leaders back then resulted in WAR.

    Why is nobody worried about such ideas is further driving home my point. Sure we have some weakeded social transfers in palce that came from that time period, but many have been weakened dramatically,and now some, like pensions are being seriously rolled back.

    I just don’t understand why we all think there is a solution. So the apologists have pointed out that the numbers are not declining as fast.

    Potentially some are not however, there is nothing but a small bit of improperly thrown out stimulus is far from any solution.

    IS there anything in the books right now, except some fant notion that the far east will be the new driver of the economy in the books as a possible long term solution. The neo-cons have already written this off as some minor downturn. Of Course a majority of those believe we don’t have a climate change problem.

    Is this a problem of our new faith, i.e. science as being objective- or is it science being subjective. I wish I had Bruno Latour’s cell number!

  • Marc Lee posts an article criticizing people for looking at a record high absolute number instead of the more modest relative number, then Erin Weir writes an article making that very same deceit.

  • Travis Fast had some good comments on this matter.

    It seems to me that we should be concerned about the absolute number of workers who are unemployed. But the unemployment rate is also an important measure. With almost all other media focussed on the unemployment rate, it is not deceitful for me to draw attention to absolute unemployment.

  • “However, credit capitalism may yet have some new instruments that bend back the boundaries of traditional thoughts on consumption.”

    Credit capitalism helps no one, has never helped anyone, and will never help anyone, it only furthers the lazyness and greed of the well off and increases usury and ultimately destroys the population.

    “Credit capitalism” or monopolistic capitalism vs. competitive capitalism is worse than communism. In this respect, Soviet Russia – albeit a horrific nightmare – would have never tolerated the usurious parasites and cockroaches that sit in their highrises downtown – having long since sold out country to the Americans.

    But yesterday, my power company installed a digital meter outside my home to nickel and dime me even further. Apparently, humans are a disgrace to humanity and we are damaging the environment. Using clean coal (by extracting the sulphur) is out of the question of course. This would be a way too easy answer to this global warming façade.

    And of course my natural gas prices must be skyhigh, you see we must export more than two-thirds of our vast natural gas deposits to the Americans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *