Canadian Employment Stats Both Good and Bad

By Ben Hamill - July 08 2019

Canadian Employment Stats Both Good and Bad

The Canadian job market is currently stronger than what has been the case for going on 5 decades. The measuring stick is the 1970’s when the term “world-wide recession” wasn’t yet the buzzword that it is today. Back then, being unemployed was generally considered to be a problem with a different type of rooted cause; the unemployed were either of the variety of those not particularly interested in putting in an honest day’s work, or in some rare cases, people who weren’t able to enter the job market due to some other physical or mental incapacity. Being unemployed was very seldom associated with a dwindling job market due to economic challenges or a labour force not adequately qualified and/or trained.

The current situation is much closer to that experienced going on 50 years ago that what it has been in recent history. Statistics now show that Canadians falling into the category of “prime working age” hold down a lion-sized share of the job market. Furthermore, the employment scales are being weighted down by women. The female employment rate is currently trending at an all-time high of 80.3 percent of women falling into the prime working age class being gainfully employed. That’s not to say that their male counterparts have been left in the lurch. The current employment rate for men is 87%, a percentage very close to the ideal 90% of the 1970’s.

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Quantity Vs. Quality

But there’s another side to the story. When looking at the actual types of jobs that the majority of Canadians are doing, and also considering the size of the wages earned, it becomes obvious that the situation has become one of quantity instead of quality. The statistics are then in a way somewhat misleading, notwithstanding the many positives associated with steady employment within any country’s economy.

According to leading economist Benjamin Tal (CIBC World Markets), it’s not that there aren’t any available jobs present in the higher-income bracket. By contrast, the reality of the matter is that there aren’t all that many people qualified to occupy the jobs accompanying the higher pay scales. And this, in Tal’s opinion, isn’t as much the fault of the general work force as what it is of certain industry trends.

A Mind-Shift Is Necessary

A good example of how under-current movements in the various sub-industries have affected the overall earning capacity of Canadian workers is the general growth that can be detected in food industries and personal services industries. Services associated with food and personal care is more in demand than ever before. The demand has in a way steered the general workforce towards meeting the market where the need is. The end-result is that more people are now employed in industries typically associated with lower salaries.

But how then to balance the scales? According to Tal and many others like him, education is the key to change the entire trajectory of the job market. People need to be made aware of human-resource shortages in alternative trades, instead of being bombarded by the same old gospel of “food, accommodation and personal care”.

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