Fighting Unemployment

I was sorry to miss a celebration of the life and work of Ian Stewart organized by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards last Friday night. Ian was a former senior economic official back in the now distant days of Keynesian dominance, including a stint as Deputy Minister of Finance which will be forever associated with the introduction […]

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Is There a Student Debt Bubble?

A recent article in The Atlantic looks at student debt in the United States and suggests there may be a student debt bubble. Written by the authors of the recent book, Higher Education?, the article points out that “college loans are nearing the $1 trillion mark, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.” The article also features the following provocative excerpt: […]

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MMT: What it Means for Canada

Arun Dubois’ blog post yesterday on Modern Monetary Theory has prompted me to write my own take on the subject.  For those interested, an interesting thumbnail sketch of MMT, essentially functional finance augmented by a full understanding of monetary operations, is explained here. While MMT deals with the details of monetary and fiscal matters, the implications of its analysis are […]

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How to Help the Long Term Unemployed

 The OECD have weighed in on what policy measures are needed to limit the damage of long term unemployment in the aftermath of the Great Recession. I would judge the NDP platform – which includes a significant job creation tax credit and increased EI benefits – to be closest to the OECD prescription. The OECD note in a pre release […]

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Global Employment Trends

The International Labour Organization has released its annual Global Employment Trends report. The International Trade Union Confederation’s response follows: ILO Report Shows Job Market Still in Crisis Brussels, 25 January 2011: Today’s Global Employment Trends report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) confirms that, despite improvements in many economic indicators, global unemployment remains at crisis levels.

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Homelessness in Canada’s North

I’m the main researcher on a three-year SSHRC-funded research project looking at homelessness and affordable housing in the Northwest Territories (NWT).  Frances Abele (Carleton University) is Principal Investigator on the project, and Arlene Haché (Yellowknife Women’s Society) is Co-Investigator.  The project falls under the larger umbrella of the Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada. Though several larger papers will come out […]

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Labour Market Exodus and Other Unhappy Math

Friday’s labour force survey numbers from Statistics Canada were another nail in the coffin of Canada’s fleeting, fragile economic “recovery.” On first glance, the data seemed to tell a good story: the official unemployment rate tumbled from 7.9% to 7.6% in November.  Immediately, that seemed strange — given that 0nly 15,000 jobs were created for the month.  Worse yet, full-time […]

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Confusion Over Monetary Policy

It’s always been my understanding that left-of-centre economists, on the whole, like it when real interest rates are low (but not negative).  Among other things, this encourages more companies to borrow (and hire more workers), reduces unemployment, reduces debt-servicing costs for government, and increases the power of labour. In July of this year, I blogged over my concern that “important voices among Canada’s […]

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The Travails of Toronto

TD Economics have released an interesting if rather thin report on the Toronto recovery. I say thin because, while there is not a wealth of current data, we do get labour market data for the huge Toronto Census Metropolitan Area. As they show, there has been a huge loss of manufacturing jobs in the region, offset to a degree by […]

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Now is Not the Time for Spending Cuts

The CCPA today released a paper I wrote (“Big Train Coming” )as a framing piece for the Alternative Federal Budget and the upcoming federal and provincial debate over the turn to austerity at a time of high unemployment. Here is the media release: “Given the fragile economic recovery and the weak job market, now is not the time for a […]

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Economy Lab at the Globe and Mail

Here’s my take on Canada’s jobs recovery, written for the Economy Lab. The Economy Lab is a new on-line feature of the on-line business section of the Globe and Mail, part the newspaper’s extensive print and electronic make-over launched on October 1. Editor Rob Gilroy has made it a lively spot. The Daily Mix is full of links to interesting […]

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Iggy’s EI Reversal

In case progressives needed another reason to distrust Michael Ignatieff, he just pulled the rug out from under Employment Insurance improvements: Michael Ignatieff is reversing his support for a wide range of enhancements to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, saying they are too expensive and are no longer required. The Liberal Leader attempted to provoke a federal election around this time […]

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Jobs Report Worse Than It Appears

Total employment reportedly increased by 36,000 in August. This increase was entirely driven by 68,400 more jobs in educational services, which simply offset a decline of 65,300 in July. In other words, the educators that Statistics Canada counted as being “unemployed” in midsummer are now “employed.” So, today’s Labour Force Survey confirms that July’s release was less bad than it […]

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Job Market Stalls

In recent months, Canada’s job numbers seemed a little too good to be true. Today’s Labour Force Survey paints a more sobering picture. Employment was somewhat lower in July, among both employees and the self-employed. Far more significant than the overall decline in employment was the replacement of 139,000 full-time positions with 129,700 part-time positions. The revelation that so many […]

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More Jobs, But Fewer Hours

This morning, Statistics Canada reported that employment jumped by an incredible 93,200 in June. But the total number of hours worked actually declined. In effect, less work was divided up between more workers. (By contrast, a similar employment jump in April corresponded to a large increase in hours worked.) Less Unemployment: A Central Canadian Story The advantage of dividing less […]

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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, […]

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Recession’s Impact on Homelessness

I recently wrote a paper on the recession’s impact on homelessness, looking at Toronto as a case study.  I presented it on Friday at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association (May 28-30, Quebec City).  The paper’s title is “Calm Before the Storm,” as I believe that, based on the outcome of the last major recession in the early […]

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Uneven Job Numbers

This morning, Statistics Canada provided another piece of evidence that the job market is not recovering nearly as rapidly as Gross Domestic Product. In March, total employment rose by 17,900, but full-time employment was actually down by 14,200. This divergence reflected 32,200 more part-time positions. The modest increase in total employment kept pace with Canada’s growing labour force, but barely […]

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Incredible Shrinking EI Benefits

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits dropped by 47,700 in January, the largest monthly decline in years. As usual, the key unanswered question is whether these workers are no longer on EI because they found jobs or simply ran out of benefits. The Labour Force Survey indicates that employment rose by 43,000 in January, so it […]

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Employment Picture Improves

Today’s Labour Force Survey paints an appreciably improved picture of Canada’s job market. In February, full-time employment rose by 60,000 and part-time employment fell by 39,000. Employers are not only hiring more workers, but also upgrading part-time positions to full-time positions. Almost all of the part-time jobs created in January became full-time jobs in February. Importantly, this employment gain reflected […]

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Still in Recession

I contribute occasionally to a web based publication, The Mark.  Today they are running my piece on the continuing crisis in the job market, and the need for governments to respond. http://themarknews.com/articles/948-still-in-recession The first few paras follow: “While the situation is not quite as daunting as in the U.S., Canada’s job market is still mired in deep recession. Chances are […]

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No Recovery for the Unemployed

The survey of private sector economists released by the Department of Finance today offers up a pretty bleak forecast that the national unemployment rate will average 8.5% in 2010, up a bit from the 8.3%  average in 2009 and up a bit from 8.4%  last month (December, 2009) .  http://www.fin.gc.ca/n10/data/2010-08_1e.pdf That forecast strikes me as pretty much bang on or […]

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Work and Labour in Canada

CSPI have just published the second edition of my book, Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues. While this is written mainly as a text for university level courses, others may find it useful as a resource on a wide range of labour market issues and trends, including the role of unions. The book can be ordered from CSPI or […]

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Job-Creation Needed

Both employment and unemployment edged down between November and December, reflecting a smaller total labour force. This news raises concern that some jobless workers are leaving the labour force altogether. However, the labour-force decrease was only 9,000, far smaller than the previous monthly increase. Overall employment changed so little because private-sector payrolls stabilized. While stability is welcome after the recent […]

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