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Employment: a Picture of Hope and Disconnect
Published: March 7, 2008
Source: Canadian Labour Congress
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OTTAWA – “Good job creation numbers ought to bring hope, but I am afraid there is a disconnect between the slowing economy we all see and the numbers published by Statistics Canada this morning,” says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. (See below detailed analysis by the Canadian Labour Congress’ Chief Economist Andrew Jackson.)

“Can this apparent strength of the job market continue when there are so many announced or expected layoffs and plant closures due to the high dollar and rising energy costs? And what is the federal government doing to protect Canadian working families when the slowdown in the manufacturing and the resource-processing industries starts affecting the rest of the economy? If last week’s budget is any indication, we should brace ourselves for tougher times ahead,” explains Georgetti.

The unemployment numbers – Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey reports that in February 2008, for a second consecutive month, the unemployment rate remained at 5.8% – a 33-year record low. The survey shows new losses of 24,000 jobs in manufacturing. Most of the new jobs are in the service and public sectors and in construction. Job creation in the private sector is improving but overall remains weak. Last month, in seasonally-adjusted numbers, there were still 1,056,600 Canadians who wanted to work but did not have a job.

Chief Economist Andrew Jackson’s Analysis

bullet There is good news today, but ample reason for caution looking ahead. Canada's job market continues to surprise. Despite a strong drop in economic growth in late 2007 and recognition this week from the Bank of Canada that a US downturn will spill over into Canada, employment rose by 43,000 last month and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8%. Most of the new jobs were as full-time employees, and real wages are on the rise.
 
bullet While most of the news is good, manufacturing employment fell by 24,000 – and there is daily news of more layoffs and closures which will hit in the coming months. Youth unemployment rose from 11.2% to 11.4%, and the proportion of women over 25 working part-time rose from 21.0% to 21.3%.
 
bullet Part of the explanation for good news is the growth of public sector jobs, up 12,000 last month, and up 87,000 over the past year. Reinvestment in public and social services is helping offset some of the weakness in the private sector, especially for women.
 
bullet Continued strength in construction is surprising, and unlikely to continue if we do not make major investments in environmental infrastructure as the housing boom slows down.
 
bullet The bottom line is that the disconnect between a slowing economy and a seemingly strong job market will not continue for long – so we will have to ensure that other sectors pick up the slack as the US economy slows down.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca 


 

 
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