Every month Statistics Canada releases employment and other labour market indicators. They are much used, much discussed, and arguably much misinterpreted. Here is a short FactBook about employment, using information from January 2005 to August 2014, clarifying some of the definitions, offering some suggestions on how to use the numbers, and highlighting some of the recent trends.
There are three major messages:
- If you want to be “really” certain that a month to month change in employment is not just statistical noise, then it has to be pretty large, say larger than 57,000
- Employment has barely kept up with population growth during the last five years; for young people this is not even the case, there being no growth at all
- The fraction of the working age population employed has yet to return to pre-recession levels, and has been falling during the past year, which seems to be due to a fall in the employment rate of women
On Wednesday evening, September 17th, I was at the University of Toronto as one of the panelists participating in the Keith Davey Forum on Public Affairs to discuss “The prospects for this generation in an unequal world”. You can watch the full event, which also involved Jeffrey Arnett and Rod Haddow, by clicking on this link.
Here are two facts that I think are important for understanding the economic prospects of the young, and the public policy concerns that arise
It is a particular honour to have my paper, “Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility,” chosen for the 2014 Doug Purvis Memorial Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the Canadian Economics Association “to the authors of a highly significant, written contribution to Canadian economic policy.”
That is certainly honour enough, but I’m particularly grateful for another reason.
“Employment is up by one million since the recession ended.”
A statement like this may indeed be a big talking point when Statistics Canada releases the results of its monthly Labour Force Survey on Friday.
While a million more people at work sounds like a lot, the Canadian population has also increased by roughly the same amount with the result that the fraction of Canadians working has been pretty well unchanged for the last five years, and has yet to return to rates before the recession.
A million is a big number, but it’s not enough to signal a complete recovery from the recession.