Job Recovery Remains Stalled

Today’s job numbers underscore the need for a federal Budget to create jobs rather than destroy jobs.

The overall picture since September of last year has been one of job losses, a decline in the quality of jobs, and falling real wages. The recovery in the job market has stalled and gone into reverse.

The national unemployment rate fell from 7.6% to 7.4% in February, but only because 38,000 Canadians gave up looking for work.

Total employment fell by 3,000, and we lost 15,000 paid jobs, offset by a rise in self-employment which usually provides much lower earnings.

Early signs of the impact of government spending cuts on jobs were apparent in 15,000 lost public administration jobs last month. Another 22,000 jobs were cut in health and social services. This is happening before the job market is impacted by expected deep cuts in federal and provincial Budgets later this month.

There was a significant jump in the youth unemployment rate from 14.5% to 14.7%, and this increase would have been even higher if not for many young workers leaving the labour force. Meanwhile, employment increased for older workers.

Real wages are continuing to fall. Average hourly earnings are up just 2.0% over the past year, well below the 2.5% inflation rate in January.

(Hat’s off to Statscan. Starting next month, the labour force survey will be released at 8.30 am instead of 7 am. So data geeks like Erin and myself will get to sleep in a little longer. )


My colleague Angella McEwen dug a little deeper into the Ontario numbers highlighted by Erin.

30,000 persons dropped out of the labour force in the Toronto CMA last month, three quarters of the Ontario total.

11,700 Ontario public sector jobs were lost in February.

The Ontario average hourly wage was up by just 1.7% over the past year.

And that’s before we even saw the Drummond Report!



  • Couple of other issues:

    The uptick in construction may be weather related, meaning, given the seasonal adjustment algorithm, we could see a downward trend later, unless we see growth, so the 14k bump in construction may have a negative residual.

    Not so sure about the strength in the 40k plus gain in finance and real estate.

    Lastly, i would underline the healthcae, and public service sector declines. This is pre- austerity- yikes. Recall that many of these jobs have downstream multipliers almost as high as
    manufacturing. So somehow cutting back on oublic sector jobs will have a heavy exonomic price, especially if Ontario and Quebec sink into recession territory. I do ghink we need to start focusing more on provincil or at least regional labour markets in our analysis, potentially east vs west. I hate to fan the flames, but if we are to understand the beast, we must look into its eyes. So i do like Angela’s additional comments

  • Darn it, sorry for the typos, forgot my glasses

    I did want to add, the rise in the youth numbers highlights how mean spirited the decision last week to close student unemployment offices across the nation was. Does anybody in the tory inner circle read the employment report? Or i guess a better question is, does anybody in that ball of snakes care? What a crude and just palin old nasty policy decison.

  • An additional note on Ontario – 3/4 of the labour market leavers were women – 31,600 Ontario women left the labour force in February – the largest decline since June 2000.

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