Canada’s Job Market: Slower, Lower, Weaker

The following commentary on yesterday’s job numbers is quoted in today’s National Post (page FP4):

The Olympic motto may be “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” but Canada’s employment growth is slower, lower and weaker going into the winter games.

Of the 29,000 Canadians who supposedly gained employment in January, 28,000 reported being self-employed. Only 1,000 found jobs paid by an employer.

While self-employment includes some high-income professionals and entrepreneurs, the jump in self-employment in the context of a poor job market suggests that many Canadians are trying to eke out income through contract work because employers are not offering paid positions.

The other troubling trend is that 21,000 Canadians dropped out of the labour force altogether in January. While their departure reduced the official unemployment count, it reflects a lack of job opportunities rather than an improvement.

Next week’s federal budget should make an Olympic effort to spur economic growth and create jobs by investing in needed public services and infrastructure.

Erin Weir is an economist with the United Steelworkers union and a CCPA research associate.

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