Jobs, Economy and Environment

CLC comments on job numbers for March: Underemployment is Canada’s main labour market challenge

April 4, 2014
OTTAWA ― Underemployment remains Canada’s biggest labour market challenge, says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Georgetti was responding to the release by Statistics Canada of its Labour Force Survey for March 2014. The official unemployment rate was 6.9% in March but the rate of underemployment rate was much higher at 15.1%.  “There are at least as many people underemployed as there are unemployed in our country,” Georgetti says. “That is an indictment of how the economy is failing Canadians, especially younger Canadians. Too often, they remain at the margins of our labour force and our society.”

Underemployment can be defined as the unmet need for paid employment. That can include part-time workers who want to work full-time, or people who have given up searching altogether. Neither group would be described by Statistics Canada as being unemployed, but they are underemployed.

Georgetti says that 13.1% of men and 15.8% of women were underemployed in 2013. In the 15-to-24 page group, 27.8% of workers were underemployed. “Some politicians keep saying that we have replaced all of the jobs lost in the Great Recession following 2008. That is not true when you account for the growth in our labour force, and there is a real problem when you look at the kinds of jobs we are creating. There are far too many part-time, precarious and poorly-paid jobs out there.”

Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Angella MacEwen

Statistics Canada reported 42,900 net new jobs in March 2014. Gains were mostly in the public sector, specifically health and social assistance. Agriculture lost 12,000 jobs and manufacturing lost 9,000 in March. However manufacturing is up over last March by 16,000, a growth rate of 0.9%, close to the average job growth rate of 1.1%.

This month’s news shows a welcome gain in the number of Canadians employed, but it is important to note that the average monthly job gain over the past 12 months is still low, at 15,800. As well, three quarters of the gains for March were part-time, and over the past 12 months one in three new jobs was part time. In March, Quebec gained 15,000 jobs during a period that coincided with an election call.

While young workers added 32,500 jobs in March, this didn’t keep up with the 35,400 new young workers who entered the labour force last month. The unemployment rate for young workers remained static at 13.6, and 47.7% of young workers were employed part-time.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 111 district labour councils.

Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca
Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour

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