A deeper look at July’s brutal employment figures: Mike Moffatt

It’s been a rough year for the majority of Canadians

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Brutal. That is the only word I can come up with to describe today’s monthly job release. We should not overreact to a single month’s report, since the job numbers are based on a survey and are prone to the measurement errors inherent in any survey. The trend, however, is discouraging. In the last 12 months, Canada has added 118,500 part-time jobs while shedding 3,100 net full-time ones, despite the working age population (defined as those 15 and older) rising by 374,200, approximately the population of London, ON.

The overall numbers mask some important year-over-year job creation trends when it comes to where jobs are being created and where they are not.

Employment Growth by Gender (000s)

Employment Employment
(full-time)
Employment
(part-time)
Population
Growth (15+)
Males 56.5 26.9 29.6 191.5
Females 59.0 -57.1 89.0 182.7
Total 115.3 -3.1 118.5 374.2

The top-line numbers for men and women are quite similar, with just under 60,000 jobs created for each group relative to a roughly 190,000 person increase in their working age populations. However, job creation for men was split nearly evenly between part-time jobs and full-time jobs, whereas women shed 57,100 full time positions over the last year while adding 89,000 part-time ones. This is a reverse of the post-recession trend where female employment had been experiencing a stronger recovery than male employment.

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Employment Growth by Age Group (000s)

Employment Employment
(full-time)
Employment
(part-time)
Population
Growth (15+)
15 to 24 years 10.9 -22.3 33.1 -28.6
25 to 54 years -43.9 -81.5 37.6 95.8
55 years andover 148.4 100.6 47.8 307.0
Total 115.3 -3.1 118.5 374.2

Canada is undergoing a number of rapid demographic changes, the most notable of which is population aging. Over 82% of the net increase in the working age population in the last year is in the group of those 55 years and older. This group experienced strong gains in both full-time and part-time employment, with 100,600 net full-time and 47,800 net part-time jobs added.

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Prime-aged working people (defined as those between the ages of 25 and 54) performed less well. Despite their numbers increasing by 95,800, this group has shed 81,500 full-time jobs over the last calendar year. This has only been partially off-set by 37,600 net new part-time jobs. Given the incredibly poor performance of prime working-age Canadians, we cannot blame the country’s weak job performance solely on population aging.

Employment Growth by Province (000s)

Employment Employment
(full-time)
Employment
(part-time)
Population
Growth (15+)
Newfoundlandand & Labrador -2.9 -6.0 2.9 -2.3
Prince Edward Island 0.3 1.2 -0.7 0.8
Nova Scotia -6.7 -4.2 -2.5 -1.0
New Brunswick -1.1 0.3 -1.3 0.1
Quebec 1.0 -21.8 22.9 53.3
Ontario 35.9 -23.8 59.8 134.7
Manitoba 4.0 -0.7 4.6 13.4
Saskatchewan 6.2 10.5 -4.5 16.8
Alberta 62.6 42.3 20.3 108.3
British Columbia 16.1 -1.0 17.1 50.1
Canada 115.3 -3.1 118.5 374.2

During an employment recovery, such as the one in the United States, we tend to see full-time jobs increase with small declines in part-time jobs as part-time positions are converted into full-time ones. This is occurring in only 3 provinces: Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, with the latter two provinces experiencing incredibly modest increases in full-time positions (1200 and 300, respectively).

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Six provinces have experienced declines in full-time positions, with Ontario (23,800), Quebec (21,800) and Newfoundland and Labrador (6,000) leading the way.

Alberta is the only province where both full-time (42,300) and part-time (20,300) positions are increasing. It is unusual to see strong growth in both categories simultaneously, though this phenomenon may be explained by Alberta’s rapid growth in working age persons (108,300), which is only slightly behind the much larger Ontario (134,700).

The majority of Canadians fall into at least one of the groups with slow employment growth (women, people under age 55, those living outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, etc.), so it has been a rough 12 months for most of us. Here is hoping next month’s job report gives us something worth celebrating.

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