OTTAWA―The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says that employment growth continues to lag five years after the economy began to shed jobs in the Great Recession that began in the fall of 2008.
“The number of new jobs is not keeping up with population growth, and as a result too many people are being forced into precarious work and highly unstable self-employment,” says CLC president Ken Georgetti. “That is causing hardship and anxiety for Canadians and especially for younger families.”
Georgetti was commenting on the release by Statistics Canada of its Labour Force Survey for September 2013. There were 1,325,000 unemployed Canadians in September and the overall unemployment rate was 6.9%. The drop in the unemployment rate was entirely due to 21,000 young workers exiting the labour market. In the 15-to-24 age group, official unemployment stood at 12.9%, a decrease from 14.1% in August. Fully 47.8% of young workers were employed part-time in September, compared to 47.4% in August.
We are told by the Finance Minister that we’re doing well in job creation,” says Georgetti. “If that is so, then why is today’s unemployment rate 6.9%, when in September 2008 it was at 6.2%?”
Georgetti adds, “This government was reluctant to spend to stimulate the economy in the face of the Great Recession in 2008-09, and then they moved too quickly to replace stimulus with austerity. The result has been poor job growth and lingering high unemployment which has caused a lot of difficulty for too many Canadians.”
Georgetti says Ottawa should use its Throne Speech this month to signal an intention to assist in job creation and training. “We badly need to improve or replace physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges. We could also create jobs if we had programs to retrofit houses and offices to make them more energy efficient. We should be investing in good quality social services. We have unemployed people who would gladly take these jobs.”
Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Angella MacEwen
In September there was a big drop in the number of young workers looking for work, as over 21,000 of them exited the labour market, and another 22,000 were engaged in full-time employment. As a result the overall unemployment rate fell, even though the rate for workers over 25 remained steady.
Even though 21,000 young workers are no longer considered unemployed, in September 2013, 185,000 of them wanted work, but they were no longer working. That’s an increase of 20,000 over September 2012.
There are regular variations in the month to month data, so it is critical to look at long term trends in the Labour Force Survey data. Since September 2008 the Canadian labour force has grown by 818,000, but the Canadian economy only added 618,000 jobs over the same time period. As a result, the employment rate, or the percentage of working age adults in employment, has not improved significantly since early 2009 when it fell below 62%. Since September 2008, 40% of new jobs created were temporary employment, mostly term or contract positions. The proportion of part-time workers who want full time work increased from 20% in September 2008, to 26% in September 2013.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.