Employment Improves, But Unemployment Persists

This morning’s Labour Force Survey might be described as showing a consolidation of the recent employment recovery. The number of new jobs was modest in May compared to April.

However, there was a significant conversion of part-time employment into full-time employment and of self-employment into paid positions. Both trends are positive for Canadian workers.

There were 67,300 more full-time jobs, but 42,500 fewer part-time jobs. So, while total employment rose by just 0.1%, total hours worked rose by 0.6%.

Meanwhile, there were 52,800 more employees as 28,000 fewer Canadians reported themselves as self-employed. The fact that self-employment is melting away during the recovery validates what union economists noted during the crisis: the surge in self-employment had reflected a lack of jobs.

Employment gains were spread among many industries and partially offset by losses in other industries. Four sectors each added more than 10,000 jobs: transportation and warehousing, financial services, health care, and public administration. It is difficult to generalize about the quality of new jobs because the first three industries comprise mixes of quite well-paid and quite poorly-paid positions.

Labour force growth exceeded job creation, increasing official unemployment by 8,100. National unemployment edged back above the 1.5-million mark.

Alberta substantially bucked this trend with 16,900 fewer workers unemployed. Conversely, unemployment increased quite significantly in Ontario (10,400), Manitoba (5,600) and British Columbia (5,900).

So, Canada’s labour market is recovering, but unemployment is not going away as an important social problem.

UPDATE (June 5): Quoted by The Toronto Star and Bloomberg

One comment

  • after combing through the LFS report for this month, a couple of knots kind of caught me.

    1) the lack of growth in construction employment and the stagnant manufacturing. With all the talk of overheated housing markets and stimulus moneys, one would have thought the construction sector would have been in full flight. We are up from last year but given the dynamics, I would have predicted a larger increase in construction. The continued lack of anything in manufacturing clearly signals to me that not much in the real economy is turning around.

    2) the largest gains were in transport and warehousing hardly a sustainable recovery. However maybe supportive of the consumer debt financed recovery.

    3) the one that seems to be a bit of a head scratcher is the health care gains. With all the notices of impending layoffs and cutbacks by hospitals, one would have thought this might e in negative territory. However, this is not all public sector so potentially we are seeing some pick up in the private sector health.

    Overall, given the gains in employment over the past few months, it is worth mentioning the fact that the unemployment rate has hardly moved. Which (I hope I do not get into trouble for this) but shows that there is really something wrong with the way we measure and report employment and unemployment. Obviously we have had a lot of people re-enter the labourforce, but where the hell were they and why were we not counting them. Even the R8 was missing then somewhat more than I would have predicted. Phrack we need to shake our heads on these statistics and wonder what we are doing when we measure such hugely important dynamics in the economy.

    Please- somebody help create a employment quality index and lets start bringing these numbers and measure into the new era of our economy, mass production statistics are dead, but yet they linger on and layer on another preventative measure to change. Muting out the required info is never a way to find a peaceful and prosperous pathway to the future.


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