The Harper Record on Jobs, 2006 to 2014

Here is the link to a short study I have done for the Broadbent Institute on the Harper Record on Jobs from 2006 to 2014 based on annual averages from the Labour Force Survey.

Coverage in today’s Toronto Star is here.

The basic findings, that there is still a lot of slack in the job market compared to the pre recession period (especially for youth) and that there has been a heavy tilt to part time work (one in three of the new jobs), will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.

What I found a bit more surprising is that 38% of the new jobs created 2006 to 2014 were in the lowest paid occupational category – sales and service jobs – and a lot of the good jobs created (35%) were in public sector occupations. Table 4 provides a lot of detail.

The Harper government claims that “since the depths of the recession, we have created more than 1.2 million net new jobs—overwhelmingly full-time, good-paying jobs in the private sector.” They hide their poor record by using the bottom of the recession as the starting point, and clearly if we look at their tenure as a whole the tilt is NOT to well-paid private sector jobs.






  • Great report Andrew- I am hoping we can transform the Harper claims about job gains. My findings in soon to be released report by the ccpa are similar. The thing that I found that was quite interesting- job quality has traditionally been positively correlated to employment growth- however since the onset of the stagnation period in the economy- 2011- the measure we used in measuring job quality – has been negatively correlated with employment growth. This to me is very highly significant and suggests we have entered into a new terrain in labour market fundamentals.

    Secondly there is a problem I have in analyzing the data itself. We have absolute changes in many labour market measures, and then we use a relative measure to offset for population growth. I wonder if we are doing justice here in comparing relative measures on some of these variables. I had a difficult time with my deeper thoughts on these supposedly simple concepts.

    Boiled down the argument that I had with myself and the literature- just because a population grows- should we expect the same amount of relative labour market failure or success to grow at rates or should we be more concerned with the absolute? Personally I did not find an easy solution- some concepts need to be measured in terms of absolute growth and some need the relative framework.


  • One of the salient things is that productivity has crawled slightly upward since 2006 but wages as a proportion of product have declined which is partly explained by the large growth of mcjobs but also the emphasis on resource extraction which has a small labor component which has historically been trending down.

    While Canada has a well educated youthful cohort, employment is weak probably because industry is so focused on experience without much interest in employee development – a basic catch 22. The winners seem to be the 55+ group who have the experience but there is a downside as that experience is jaded i.e. reliable but not so likely to launch disruptive advances that maintain industry’s health and competitiveness.

  • Another thing to mention is that average employment growth since 2006 has lagged population growth by nearly 1%. The notion is that immigration should help the economy by importing skilled workers but this seems less likely given the level of unemployment in the educated under 55 group and one might sense that imported workers with experience face the ‘not Canadian experience’ barrier.

  • The ‘short study’ link doesn’t lead to the short study.

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