Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is Canadian Employment on the Rise?

Statistics are like a cat. Rub its fur one way and it purrs; rub the other way and the results are somewhat less positive.

So it is with employment figures released by Statistics Canada for the month of August 2009. Stephen Harper's Conservative government is giving a positive spin to the 27,100 net jobs gain for the month. The announcement triggered an eight-tenth of a cent rise in the Canadian dollar, although higher crude oil prices may also have influenced the dollar's rise. Some leading economists have announced that this is an indication of the end of the recession. All this sounds rather encouraging.

Critics, though, are quick to note that many Canadians are not feeling quite as positive. Most of the new jobs were part-time only. The number of unemployed rose in August by 21,900, bringing the total number of unemployed Canadians to 486,000 since the global financial crunch of October 2008. The decline in the manufacturing sector has continued, although construction has begun to stabilize. Most of the new part-time jobs were in the lower paying service sector. Higher paying, high productivity work fell by 17,300 positions. Full-time work continues to be in a decline.

Certainly, there is cause to be optimistic. As one economist stated, half a job is better than no job. Economic indicators seem to point in a positive direction. But, one month of net growth may be far too early to establish a positive trend. Canada may well be on its way to economic recovery. Nearly half a million unemployed Canadians certainly hope so.

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