Todayâ€™s Labour Force Survey indicates that full-time employment declined by 4,000 in August. There were 7,000 fewer jobs in goods-producing industries.
A surprising 21,000 new jobs in retail and wholesale trade propelled economy-wide employment up by 27,000. This increase consisted entirely of part-time jobs.
While any employment gain is welcome news, the quality of these new jobs is doubtful. In 2008, average hourly earnings were $13.90 in retail compared to $20.16 across all industries.
Unemployment rose by 22,000 in August, surpassing 1.6 million for the first time since February 1994. While output may be starting to grow again, there is little evidence of a sustained recovery in employment.
Even after such a recovery begins, unemployment will continue rising as Canadaâ€™s population grows and formerly discouraged workers return to the labour force.Â We need not only a return to economic growth, but enough growth to create jobs for a larger workforce.
Whither Stimulus Spending?
Governments appear to have eliminated 12,000 positions in August. Like total employment, public-sector employment peaked in October 2008, when the global financial system imploded. Since then, the number of public employees has fallen by 65,000.
This decline is less bad than the corresponding decline in private-sector employment. However, Canadians might ask why there was any decline at all. Surely the purpose of government stimulus is not to reduce public-sector employment at a slower pace than private-sector employment. Government hiring should increase to at least partially offset private-sector layoffs.
A possible explanation is that public employment was uniquely high in October 2008 because of Elections Canada hiring to administer the federal vote. If so, perhaps Canadians should hope for another election this fall to create public-sector jobs?
However, one would hope that a deliberate stimulus program could create more jobs than the number of people temporarily employed to run an election campaign. In any case, even going back a full year (before the last election), the number of public employees is down by 20,000 from August 2008 to August 2009.
UPDATE (Sept. 12): Quoted by Reuters