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Tag Archives: jobs

In pandemic times, the unemployment rate is not what it seems

Interpreting job market statistics demands a lot of care right now. The pandemic has muddied the statistical waters and created the illusion that unemployment rates are significantly higher in Canada than in other countries. The leader of Canada’s official opposition claims the Canadian unemployment rate is higher than in other rich countries. Source: https://twitter.com/erinotoole/status/1367181227338264578?s=20Erin O’Toole, with a sense of indignation and urgency, has boldly proclaimed...

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An Employment Insurance system for the 21st century: Lesson 2, The future of work calls for better income insurance

The 2020 Speech from the Throne boldly claims that “This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an [Employment Insurance] system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.” That is a tall order, a major overhaul of a complicated program in the span of the next couple of months, with little or virtually no consultation of stakeholders or engagement of experts outside of the government. Will Minister Qualtrough, her cabinet colleagues, and of...

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Employment Insurance reform that promotes agency

Benefits for employee initiated time away from work should be delivered through individual accounts, and a new program for maternity and parental benefits should be started outside of Employment Insurance. More than one out of every three dollars distributed through the Employment Insurance program are for so-called Special Benefits, those parts of the program associated with maternity and parental leave, with caregiving, and with sickness. The fact that the COVID19 pandemic...

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The Worst Jobs Day Ever

Driven by the COVID-19 shutdown, April marked the greatest job loss in American history. The unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent, and employers cut 20.5 million jobs. Those figures are heart-wrenching. But as awful as they are, they do not fully capture workers’ hardships. To be counted as unemployed, people must be available for work and actively seeking it. With schools closed, job opportunities withering, and social distancing the new norm, many displaced workers don’t satisfy...

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What you need to know about Statistics Canada’s survey of the labour market

On Thursday, April 9th Statistics Canada will release the results of the Labour Force Survey for the month of March 2020. COVID19 makes this one of the most scrutinized releases in the 75 year history of the survey, reporting as it will on jobs and unemployment during the week of March 15th to March 21st. Here’s what you need to know, and what to look for. 1. As luck has it, the survey is well timed to capture the start of the economic meltdown The survey is anchored on a...

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How do the party platforms address the changing nature of work, pay, and poverty?

The world of work is changing and creating anxiety about jobs and incomes. There is some overlap on how the major parties contesting the Canadian federal election propose to deal with these challenges, but the Conservatives are definitely the outlier. The Greens score high on vision but low on feasibility,  both the New Democrats and Liberals put a list of reasonable proposals on the table, with the Liberals offering a bigger vision that is also feasible. The Conservatives don’t seem...

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The changing nature of work calls for enhancing the human and financial capital of children in less wealthy families

The Canadian federal government should enhance the human and financial capital of children in less wealthy families, enhance market incomes of lower paid workers, and enhance the security of working incomes by adapting three existing programs to new realities: widening their scope, making them more flexible, and making them easier to obtain. The changing world of work is also a changing world of pay, a world that will likely lean toward greater wage rate inequalities, lower or...

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Do other wage series contradict the where’s-the-wage-response story? Nope.

In a few pieces out this morning, I make some noise about how unresponsive wage growth has been to the tightening job market, using the wage data from the Establishment Survey, which covers the private sector workforce. This is the key figure, showing that while wage growth clearly accelerated from 2 to 2.5% as the job market tightened over the past few years, it has since stalled out. But do other wage and compensation series agree? A lot of people like to cite the Atlanta Fed Wage Tracker....

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Jobs report comes in slightly weaker than expect, but the real problem is slow wage growth

The nation’s payrolls climbed 156,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.4 percent, in a slightly weaker-than-expected jobs report. Wage growth is still stuck at an annual growth rate of 2.5%, the length of the average work week ticked down slightly, and payroll gains for June and July were revised down 41,000. (Note: Hurricane Harvey’s impact is NOT present in today’s jobs numbers, as the storm struck well after the survey date. See comments below.) Though the...

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The usually great Catherine Rampell unconvincingly objects to two improved labor standards

I’ve long been a big admirer of Catherine Rampell, but her piece today on “unintended consequences” of pro-worker policies was uncharacteristically unconvincing. She goes after two specific upgrades to existing labor standards: the increase in the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 per hour, and the increase in the salary threshold below which workers have to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime. Rampell, a data nerd (that’s a big compliment, to be clear), does the same thing...

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