Today’s Job Numbers: A Part-Time Recovery

Analysis from my colleague Sylvan Schetagne ..

The Canadian economy in February 2011 had fewer full-time jobs, but more part-time, self employment and temporary work. These are not signs of a strong job recovery.

The unemployment rate remained stable at 7.8%, but job quality decreased significantly last month. The number of full-time jobs was down by 23,800 while part-time work was up 38,900, for a net gain of only 15,100 jobs. In February 2011, Canada had 156,100 fewer full-time jobs that in October 2008, before the Great Recession began.

In February, self-employment was up by 25,500 while the number of all employees decreased by 10,400. In the private sector, the number of jobs decreased by 20,000. The number of temporary jobs rose significantly between February 2010 and 2011, from 1,646,300 to 1,740,000, despite what some people have described as a strong job recovery.

The number of unemployed Canadians barely changed in February (-1,100). Canada had 334,700 more unemployed individuals than before the beginning of the Great Recession, an increase of 30%.

In February 2011, more than one out of 5 unemployed Canadians (21%) had been unemployed for more than 6 months. By contrast, in January 2008, before the recession, about one of 10 (11.9%) was unemployed for more than 6 months.

The real unemployment rate in February 2011 (including unemployed workers, discouraged searchers, those waiting for jobs to begin, and involuntary part-timers) was 11.7%. That is the same number as in February 2009, at the beginning of the Great Recession.

Finally, the proportion of employed Canadians working part-time (19.7%) was up again in February 2011, near the record level registered during the Great Recession.


Strikingly, the majority of jobs created over the past year have been part-time. Of the 334,900 increase in employees between February 2010 and February 2011 (not seasonally adjusted) 55% were part-time and 5% were temporary full-time jobs, meaning that just 40% of the net new jobs were permanent full-time positions.

27.5% of all part-timers in February 2011 were involuntary part-timers , meaning that they wanted but could not find full-time work. That is up sharply from 20.5% in February 2008 before the recession.

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