CLC President Hassan Yussuff says that after yet another year of job-market under performance, disappointing economic growth, and “wait-and-see” assurances from political leaders, 2015 brings a new opportunity to make a fresh start in the Canadian labour market.
“The federal government has the opportunity right now to invest in a better future for all Canadians. Ottawa's single-minded obsession with austerity and mantra that the labour market will eventually recover is simply prolonging the economic hardship of working Canadians. But to turn this ship around, we need to reinvest in job creation and skills training,” he said.
The employment picture to close out 2014 was reflective of much of the rest of the year. Statistics Canada’s release of its Labour Force Survey for December 2014 showed there were just over 1.27 million unemployed Canadians in December, and the overall unemployment remained at 6.6%.
“The government’s laissez-faire attitude in 2014 now leaves us lagging behind the American economic and job market recovery, demonstrating once again that Canada needs a new approach to boosting job growth. Quite simply there needs to be a shift in priorities. New spending on infrastructure, reversing federal job cuts, investing in social programs – these are the elements of a sustained job growth strategy,” he added.
“The shake-out coming in the oil and gas sector should serve as a wake-up call to this complacent government,” warned Yussuff. But he also stressed the opportunities present in the Canadian dollar's return to Earth and the prospects for a revitalized manufacturing sector.
Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Angella MacEwen
Overall job growth and quality were disappointing in 2014. The number of jobs grew by only 1%, or 186,000 – far below the population growth of 380,000. The average annual employment rate for 2014 fell compared to 2013, and remains well below 2008 levels. The total actual hours worked in 2014 was lower than 2013, despite the increase in the number of positions. Since 2008, the total actual hours worked has grown at only half the rate of total job growth.
Compared to last December there was little change in employment in the natural resources sector, while employment in construction was up by 68,000 and employment in manufacturing was down by just over 11,000. Accommodation and food services employment fell compared to November, but was still up by 38,000 compared to last December. Also notable, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector lost 35,000 jobs compared to last December.
Compared to last December both Nova Scotia and Ontario saw their unemployment rate fall by nearly a full percentage point. In Nova Scotia this was completely due to a fall in labour force participation, and while Ontario added 80,000 jobs, their participation rate fell from 61.7% to 61%, indicating deeper labour market weakness in both provinces.
While it is too early to see the fallout from falling oil prices, there will likely be some impact across the country as industries adapt.