Jobs Recovery Far From Complete

One thing that really bugs me about the mainstream media coverage of the economy is the frequently asserted view that the jobs recovery is now almost complete – meaning that total employment has returned to pre recession levels. As one example, the Globe’s coverage of yesterday’s interest rate increase referred to  “Canada’s unique position as a rich country that has recovered almost all of the jobs lost during the recession.” Similarly un-nuanced enthusiasm about an almost complete recovery could be heard on CBC TV.

In fact, while the Canadian economy has begun to recover from the “Great Recession” in terms of the level of GDP and overall job growth, unemployment and under-employment still remain well above pre-recession levels. The national unemployment rate in June 2010 was 7.9%, well up from 6.0% two years earlier, and the employment rate of adult men was down 2.5 percentage points from two years earlier. In June 2010, the number of unemployed workers was still more than 300,000 higher than before the recession, and the total number of permanent employees was still down over 300,000 from before the recession. Statistics Canada’s broadest measure of unemployment, which counts labour force dropouts and involuntary part-time workers, stands at 10.6%.

Much of the recovery in jobs has been in low paid, part-time and temporary employment. This shows up in the fact that average hourly wages adjusted for inflation were lower in June 2010 than a year earlier.

As of June 2010, over 300,000 workers ― mainly adult men ― had been out of work for six months or longer.

Canada continues to suffer from a jobs crisis which should be seriously addressed  as debate over the next Budget begins just as “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” is about to expire.


  • And this does not include the regional breakdown…

    For instance, Alberta got hammered and job recovery here is painfully slow compared to the rest of the country. Last time I looked, Alberta employment numbers were still 2% below the October 2008 level (the national pre-recession peak).

  • I’ve been unemployed for more than a year now, was homeless for 4 months. Now on social assistance, my benefit doesn’t cover my rent, so I’m screwed, chewed and barbecued. My expectations have been lowered to rock bottom. It hurts when people tell me to “just get a job, any job” and give unsolicited job-hunting advice, like I’ve been going about it all wrong all this time. It’s not me, it’s the economy, stupid!

  • This focus on total employment – as opposed to the employment rate, unemployment rate, or total unemployment – has been the cornerstone of the public case for higher interest rates.

  • Sorry to hear about your predicament ottawaSteph.

    Paul Krugman write a pretty good assessment of what is happening south of the border and was fairly critical of Bernacke’s lack of interest in seriously considering more stimulus. Like Mr. Krugman, I am mystified as to why many policy makers are somehow “Hoovering” themselves in to believing the as Mr. Krugman noted, the “confidence fairies” fairies are somehow going to come around and save us. I am sorry to say this OttawaSteph, but apparently that is the help you will be getting, some kind of mystical belief, that if we all really pretend things are going to get better, that somehow the fairies will come and grant us our wish. That is about all the austerity, stimulus hawks, have going for them. Not a shred of evidence, and a whole pile of history that threw up so much hell onto workers in the ’30s that teh results…. well we all know the results.

    The cockiness of Canadians leaders, as stated by Andrew had better start getting a whole lot more cautious, as we all know that we have not detached from the US, as was suggested that last time their was a bit of delay going into the great recession. I still remember those blogs quite well, all the nay sayers stating that the Canadian economy had detached from the US and hence we were not going to see such dramatic fall out from the economic bombs that decimated their economy. We will feel it and soon.

    And this time we will not apparently have the huge wave of Obama stimulus to cushion our economy with. (recall that Obama outspent Harper not just quantitatively -2-1 at least – but also (and I think more importantly) qualitatively) If it were not for the Obama cash for clunkers and many other quite targeted programs, I think the auto sector in Canada would have been a whole lot worse off. Yes, Harper spent some money directly on the auto sector, but his across the board tax cuts were no match for the targeting that Obama held out. Whether it was much more generous and lengthy EI benefits or other such measures, our economy would be a whole lot worse off, if we had to merely rely on Harper’s “economic plan”

    And I do 150% believe that much of the employment notions that Andrew is pointing out do not go far enough in pointing out the reality. I also believe there were a a few hundred thousand high quality manufacturing and forestry jobs that disappeared, and a construction sector that was quite hobbled and still weak in relative terms. So if anything, the jobs created are very soft and reek of precariousness. We have already been through the numbers so I will fore go that.

    Also, long term unemployment has reached new heights in the US that have not been seen since the great depression, as noted by the work by LArry Katz.

    Also the CAW jobs study and the recent OECD study suggests that longer term unemployment in Canada is quite high. So those doing cart wheels over the employment numbers, had better start realizing that there is no such things as fairies, and we are about to head into a space, that is going to get very very nasty. We are so unprepared for what is about to hit us, it is amazing that we are all sitting here arguing about Census numbers.

    Truly, imagine this, the US economy is on the downturn, the Chinese Economy just showed some quite scary signs of slowing, and the EU is fighting each other to see who can cut spending the fastest in some kind of Hoover on Steroids match.

    And look at me, I can’t sleep- so that in itself is a very bad sign!

    Duncan had a good article posted on Rabble today, that discussed much of what I am saying, so if I lose a nights sleep I will blame his thoughts.

    My final thought- will Clement actually do us all a favour and resign already?

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