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The employment storm of ’09 is on its way

Economists expect 251,000 jobs will be lost this year. Will yours be one of them?


 

The employment storm of ’09 is on its way

Every Thursday, Kim Kent’s bosses at Cooper Standard tack a list of names to the wall. Cooper is an auto parts plant in Stratford, Ont., that makes rubber door trim for the Detroit Three, and the printout dictates the work schedule for the week ahead. It’s simple, really, explains Kent. “If your name is on the list, then you’re working; if it’s not, you’re not.” On Dec. 11, hers wasn’t. And with that she became yet another victim of the job crunch sweeping the country.

This isn’t the first time the 41-year-old autoworker has faced the axe. Two decades ago she took a job at another auto parts maker, where her father had worked before her, only to see the company go bust during the recession of the early 1990s. As stressful as that time was, it was nothing compared to the anxiety she’s feeling now. “This is so much scarier,” says Kent, 41. “The first time I lost my job, there were lots of other plants in town. Nowadays, there’s nothing else. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Kent’s worries have been made worse by the sudden drop in the real estate market. Five years ago, when her job seemed secure, she took the plunge and bought her first house. Once her unemployment insurance cheques begin to roll in, Kent figures they’ll barely cover her mortgage payments, let alone food and other basic living expenses. “My car is sitting in the driveway with a flat tire, another cost I can’t afford to deal with now.” She regularly checks the local newspaper for other types of jobs. There was a “livestock trucking mechanic” position open the other day, but when you don’t know the first thing about engine repair, let alone cattle, what are you doing to do? “If I knew the layoffs were going to be very long term, I’d go back to school,” she says. “But even then I really don’t know what I would study. Where are the good jobs?”

It’s a question being asked far beyond the assembly lines of the automotive industry. After 15 phenomenal years of employment creation, Canada’s job machine is seizing up. Canadians got a startling glimpse of what may be in store last month, when Statistics Canada revealed employers shed a jaw-dropping 71,000 jobs in November, the worst monthly plunge in a quarter of a century. Since then, a steady flow of pink slips at Canadian companies suggests that figure is almost certain to rise.

Pick any region of the country and layoffs are becoming a sad fact of life. Detroit’s Big Three have already laid off thousands of workers in central Canada, and announced they’ll be shutting down many of their plants for a full month. On Bay Street hundreds of lawyers, investment bankers and analysts have been let go. Media companies across the country have slashed their newsrooms—most recently Quebecor axed 600 jobs at its Sun newspaper chain. In Quebec, a major T-shirt maker sent 400 packing. In Calgary, 400 carpenters building housing for oil sands workers are themselves out in the cold. And in Vancouver, industries as diverse as mining and video game development have slashed jobs and are closing up shop.

Add it all up, and economists believe unemployment is set to jump dramatically over the next two years, and no province or industry is immune. TD Economics estimates 251,000 jobs will be lost over the next nine months. The major bank economists are cautiously optimistic that the country won’t see a repeat of the downturns in the 1980s and 1990s, when the ranks of the unemployed swelled to around 12 per cent of the workforce; if they’re wrong, the scale of job losses would be far worse. During the 1990s Canada suffered two straight years of job losses totalling 356,000, warns James Marple, an economist with TD Bank. “Our forecast is that job losses won’t be that dire,” he says. “But the risk of job losses being worse than we anticipate is there.”

So the ultimate questions on most people’s minds are these: could one of those vanishing jobs be mine? Who’s safe and who’s at risk? What parts of the country will be hardest hit? And can I do anything to protect myself?

THE GOOD . . .

“If you can build a bridge or fix a road, that’s definitely a good thing,” says Dale Orr, an economist with IHS Global Insight in Toronto. Governments everywhere have vowed to build their way out of the recession by putting people to work on infrastructure projects. In the U.S., president-elect Barack Obama hopes to jolt the economy back to life with a $850-billion stimulus program, with much of that money earmarked for infrastructure. In Canada, Ottawa has already committed $6 billion in such spending, with promises of more to come. Metrolinx, the public transit authority serving the Greater Toronto Area, has said its $7-billion, five-year capital plan will create 17,000 jobs in the next two years as it builds light-rail transit lines. In B.C., the government is twinning the congested Port Mann bridge at a cost of $1.5 billion. Alberta has vowed to spend $20 billion over the next three years on capital projects, and Montreal’s crumbling overpasses desperately need replacing. To Orr, this adds up to increased demand for truck drivers, certain types of labourers and steelmakers.

Along the same lines, even though fears over climate change have taken a back seat to economic worries, governments are still intent on spending heavily to promote green energy projects. For instance, in Prince George, B.C., up to 150 jobs could be created from bio-energy projects that use wood-waste.

But infrastructure isn’t the only potential bright spot out there. Byrne Luft, vice-president of marketing at the staffing agency Manpower, sees growing demand in the information technology sector as companies look for ways to become more efficient. “Times like this are a catalyst to drive that sector,” he says. Likewise, amid the gloom on Bay Street, those who specialize in corporate restructuring could be in greater demand during this recession, as companies flex their penny-pinching ways. A. E. Feldman Associates, an executive search firm in New York, recently proclaimed accountants are “hot commodities in a slowing economy.” The firm noted that surveys of U.S.-certified public accounting firms found most have seen business jump 19 per cent over the last two years, a time when America’s economy was slowing down sharply.

The key, says Laurence Shatkin, the New Jersey-based author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs, is to know what people need, no matter what shape the economy is in. A job with a utility is one example. “Every day people flush the toilet and the water has to be there,” he says. “These are the vital things people can’t do without.” Other similar jobs: doctors, nurses, teachers, court workers and law enforcement. (Vancouver, for instance, is on the hunt for 100 new police officers.) The fact that many of these jobs entail working for the government explains why public service employment is holding up better than in the private sector. Then again, the Harper government is now predicting a deficit of as much as $30 billion over the next four years. If the economy turns out to be worse than currently projected, that could mean a decline in government revenues. If that happens, even those relatively safe public sector jobs could be in jeopardy.

THE BAD . . .

The thing about recessions is that any weakness in an industry gets quickly exposed. This downturn is no different. The marketing, media and advertising industries, for instance, have taken a hit as publishers and producers struggle with dramatic technological shifts in the way people get their news and entertainment. As advertising budgets get slashed, media companies are bleeding jobs. Last month, Barclays Capital estimated that advertising spending in the U.S. for this year will fall 10 per cent to $252.1 billion.

Scribes and marketing types are one thing. Far more Canadians earn a paycheque in retailing, and the problems in that sector are also acute. Retailing has flourished in recent years, with big box stores springing up at lightning speed. Today the sector employs 1.8 million people, more than the manufacturing sector, which is a reversal from just three years ago. The problem, economists warn, is that much of the consumer spending that fuelled the retail boom was done with borrowed money. According to the Bank of Canada, the ratio of household debt to disposable income has reached 131 per cent, up from 110 per cent nine years ago. At the same time personal bankruptcies have begun to edge up. In the third quarter of last year, there were 22,776 personal bankruptcies filed, up nearly 17 per cent from the year before. As consumers struggle to cope with their mountains of debt, they’re cutting back at the till. In October, retail sales fell 0.9 per cent to $35.9 billion from the month before, with the sharpest declines hitting stores that sell home furnishings and electronics.

Even stalwart sectors like mining, oil and gas, which have driven Canada’s economy to new heights, are expected to suffer profoundly. Over the last decade employment in the oil and gas sector alone has grown nearly 49 per cent to 365,000 jobs. The problem is that commodity prices have reversed almost all of their gains of the last few years, putting many of those new jobs in peril. Don Drummond, chief economist with TD Bank, believes the price of a barrel of oil will settle around US$30, down nearly 80 per cent from its peak of just eight months ago. “The decline in commodity prices is the great equalizer,” he says. “I think Alberta will have a sizable output decline in 2009.”

It’s impossible to understate how important the boom in the West has been to Canada’s economic resilience. Until recently the phrase on most economists’ lips was “labour shortage.” In June, in a report on the B.C. mining industry, Don Lindsay, the CEO of mining giant Teck Cominco, fretted about the “pending labour shortage.” Six months later, his company has temporarily shut five of its mines to cut costs and plans to lay off 165 workers at a zinc mine in Washington state. And who can forget the tales from Fort McMurray of high-school dropouts pulling down $17 an hour at the local Tim Hortons while newcomers had their pick of six-figure jobs in the oil field? Last month ATCO Structures, a Calgary manufacturer of construction trailers, handed termination notices to 400 workers because of delays in oil sands projects. “For years I’ve heard nothing but chatter about how Canada faces these medium-term labour shortages,” says Doug Porter, an economist with BMO Nesbitt Burns. “I don’t think you’ll hear much about that for a while now. That concern will seem almost laughable over the next few years.”

In essence, the West has acted like a giant sponge, absorbing workers from across the country. For 20 straight quarters more people have moved away from Central Canada to other provinces than were coming in, with most of that movement flowing east to west. If the sponge is squeezed dry, Canada could find itself awash with desperate job seekers.

The same is true for the construction industry. The housing and condo boom of the last few years fuelled a hiring binge among carpenters, electricians and the like. As of November, construction accounted for 7.4 per cent of total employment—the highest it has been since the mid-1970s. In B.C. the figure peaked even higher, at 10 per cent. In fact, of the 87,000 jobs created in Canada between January and October of 2008, most of them were in the construction sector. “Construction was masking the weakness in employment,” says TD Bank’s Drummond. In other words, if it weren’t for the building boom, Ontario would have experienced a jobs crisis long ago—in that province the industry now employs three times as many people as the automotive and auto parts sectors.

But now the nail guns are falling silent. For the last five years builders have put up about 250,000 housing units a year, far more than the 180,000 warranted by Canada’s population growth. As of November, housing starts plunged to an annual rate of 172,000 as the financial crisis forced developers to delay or abandon some commercial and residential projects outright. Even with all the talk about infrastructure spending, economists say it won’t be enough to fully pick up the slack. “The construction sector is very vulnerable to a crash,” says Porter.

It’s become clear that many companies simply went overboard in their hiring. Economists have been warning that Canada’s productivity levels were plummeting, especially in the resource and construction sectors. “It was a bit of a mystery to me why Canadian employers were hiring so many people through October,” says Drummond. “It suggested to me that when things weakened, they’d be more inclined to do layoffs because they over-hired.” Now, it seems, that time has come.

. . . AND THE UGLY

On a Friday afternoon in mid-December, while the Bush administration was vowing to do everything it could to stop a “precipitous collapse” of the U.S. auto industry, four dozen Canadian automotive engineers gathered in a hotel in downtown Toronto to figure out what they would do if the unspeakable happens and one of the Detroit Three does indeed collapse. “We looked at our situation, with the auto industry going the way it is, and realized a lot of our folks need training to transition into other jobs,” says Phil Kling, chairman of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Ontario. “What are they going to do if the auto industry can’t support them any longer?”

The plight of the auto sector has dominated most of the discussion around central Canada’s worsening job market. And for good reason. Pummelled first by a rising loonie, and then by slumping car sales, the auto sector had already shed about 35,000 jobs since 2002. And the outlook remains grim. In its heyday, half of all cars and trucks sold in North America bore a GM brand name. Today it makes up just 20 per cent of the market. Even without a full collapse, analysts say, the Detroit automakers must keep cutting jobs. And that translates into even tougher times for parts suppliers like Magna International, which has failed to diversify away from the Detroit Three. In recent months the company shut several plants, letting go of hundreds of workers. The Conference Board of Canada says the auto parts industry shed 12,800 jobs in 2007, and predicts another 10,800 jobs will have been lost by the end of 2009.

Even the Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda, once hailed as bright spots in the auto sector, are starting to hurt. Just weeks after Toyota opened a new plant in Woodstock, Ont., in early December—a rare chance for politicians to cut ribbons—the company warned it would suffer its first annual operating loss. Analysts say it will be nearly impossible for Toyota to stick to its policy of zero layoffs if the recession deepens. The outlook is just as spotty for much of Central Canada’s manufacturing sector. Quebec’s low-skilled textile industry is likely to continue to suffer heavy job losses as work gets transferred overseas—even during the last five years of relatively good times, at least 3,000 textile jobs disappeared. Then last month Bombardier Recreational Products, the maker of Ski-Doo snowmobiles and Sea-Doos, terminated 1,000 jobs, the majority of them in Quebec. The outlook is better at Bombardier Inc.’s rail division, but for each sign of optimism, there’s another round of pink slips. Last month Babcock & Wilcox, a pipe maker in Cambridge, Ont., laid off 50 employees after a contract to supply one troubled oil sands project in Alberta was delayed. “The main message is that no province or industry is completely immune to the downturn of global growth,” says Porter.

Experts offer several tips to those who are worried about the security of their jobs, and they generally have to do with making yourself as indispensable as possible. For instance, Shatkin says workers need to make sure their higher-ups know what a good job they’re doing. (Others might call that sucking up to the boss.) With companies looking to cut costs, it’s also best not to be seen as being wasteful. And if you can, stick as close to your company’s core business as possible. During good times, businesses often bulk up by branching into other sectors. Those are often the first to go in a recession.

The problem is, many of the suggestions offered by career advisers don’t help much on a factory assembly line or in a labour-intensive job in the resource sector. But one thing all workers can think of doing is obtaining some extra skills. That could mean returning to school. Wayne Shillington, the president of NorQuest College in Edmonton, says his school typically sees a jump in enrolment during recessions as workers try to make themselves more employable. Of course, the best time to do that is before a recession actually hits, since it takes time to build up new skills. As Shatkin admits, “There are no easy answers for what you should do right now. In the short term, it’s tough.”

A lot depends on how deep, and how long the recession extends. In the 1980s, when a global slowdown hit all sectors of the economy, there were stories of Ph.D.s forced to pack groceries to make ends meet. During the 1990s recession, any manufacturer that said it was hiring would attract thousands of applicants who’d line up around the block just for a chance at an interview.

But even if the unemployment rate doesn’t reach into the double digits this time around, some economists worry the effect on the economy could be just as bad. That’s because the quality of jobs has been deteriorating for months now. “The unemployment rate is masking much more severe difficulties,” says Benjamin Tal, an economist with CIBC World Markets. “You have to look at not just the number of jobs being created, but also the quality of those jobs, and we’ve seen a significant decline over the last six months.” By that he means more and more workers are being forced to switch to part-time positions, or into “forced self-employment.” They earn a lower income, but don’t show up in the unemployment numbers. “You can make an argument that many of those self-employed people are actually unemployed, because they’re not making very much money.” And he expects job quality to continue to deteriorate for at least another six months.

Which means those hoping for a fast recovery are likely to be disappointed. With older workers delaying retirement, and hundreds of thousands of young workers and immigrants entering the labour force over the next two years, the days of multiple job offers and hardball salary negotiations are over.

For workers like 50-year-old Jaspal Brar, a line worker at Chrysler’s plant in Brampton, it’s a scary time. On Dec. 19 the company shut down all its plants in North America for one month. He doesn’t know what he’ll do if the layoffs at his plant become permanent. “The expectation and hope is that the company will survive and we’ll be able to get through this,” he says. But after a pause, he adds, “Sometimes it’s easier to just block the thought from your mind, because you don’t want to face reality.”

The reality is no one knows for certain how hard hit the Canadian job market will be during this recession. If the economists are right, the pain will be brief and the country will return to prosperity sometime later this year or early in 2010. But time and again during this crisis, early optimism about Canada’s resilience has proved misguided. So for those asking the question, “Is my job safe?” the answer will come soon enough. Fingers crossed, the news will be good.


 

The employment storm of ’09 is on its way

  1. I’ve already lost one job specifically due to the industry’s concerns about the economic future. Fortunately, I’ve always believed in diversification, so losing one source of income isn’t too bad, it just means more effort can be put into the others.

  2. UPDATE: Kim Kent is one of the lucky ones. I was recalled to work at Cooper Standard after only being laid off for 3 weeks — this time. But many of my brothers and sisters whose livelihoods rely on the manufacturing sector haven’t been as lucky. While this article focuses on the doom and gloom facing us in 2009 it should be noted that over 400,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector over the last 5 years in this country already.

    Working people like myself are scared. This crisis is a lot different than the recession of the early nineties. Then, we still had the Auto Pact that protected Canadian jobs in the automotive sector. There was a hope that we would come out of the temporary downturn and employers would start hiring again — and they did. But as a result of neo-liberal policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement, whole industries have closed up over the last decade and left the country! While the recent auto ‘bailouts’ are welcome news for the short term, without a long term strategy to level the playing field in global trade, the auto sector and the estimated half million jobs it supports in Canada is doomed.

    Once my Employment Insurance starts running I will only receive 45 per cent of my gross earnings which is only around $20 more a week in benefits than I received fifteen years ago. Our EI program is deplorable, especially during these times of crisis. Not only is the benefit level at an historic low but less than half of unemployed Canadians even qualify for it at all! Training programs are woefully inadequate. The above article suggests we train for jobs that will always be in demand like doctors, nurses, and teachers but the current EI system will only support training that takes less than two years, preferably less than one, and seldom, if ever, at the university level.

    Maybe we should follow the advice of the vice president at Manpower and all become ‘specialists in corporate restructuring’. There should be good job security there!

    • you haven’t work a day in your life at Cooper

    • “Working people like myself are scared. ”

      I am sick to death of hearing phrases like that. Just because I’m not a blue collar worker doesn’t mean I don’t ‘work.’ Guess what, I don’t get overtime and I take my laptop home all the time and I’m working my butt off.

      • I am sorry for anyone that loses their job – but the free ride is over. Anyone that did not see the demise of the manufacturing secotr either cannot read or just refused to believe it. Drinking beer on the weekend and getting paid $60K a year to put a bolt in a door is not work. Try putting yourself through multiple univeristy degrees part time while working 60 hrs a week in a white collar job. Now that is real work. I never understood why people live way beyond their means ($400K house) and expect to get paid big bucks adding little value and then can’t quite fathom why they are not better taken care of when the obvious happens. Just be glad that there is EI.

    • without a long term strategy to level the playing field in global trade, the auto sector and the estimated half million jobs it supports in Canada is doomed

      It’s because your a high cost producer that your job is in jeopordy pal. Thank your unions for that.

    • One of the lucky ones? You have no credability when it comes to labour issues. You sold out four hundred senior employees to put your self ahead of them when a certain Cooper plant closed. For all your Union activism, that will be your legacy . Sister.

  3. K Kent, how has NAFTA caused jobs to move to China? NAFTA was only between, you know, NA countries. Manufacturing moving to Third World countries is something quite different from NAFTA. I hate to disappoint you, but there is no level global playing field, never was one, and never will be one. People in poor countries will work for pennies, and that won’t change anytime soon. Whatever future employment prospects our country has, it doesn’t include competing for labour-intensive jobs with heavily populated low-income countries. I don’t pretend to have the answers, because I don’t have them. But I do know where the answers DO NOT lie, and that is in attempting to level the unlevelable. By the way, Autopact was only ended a couple years ago, long after the manufacturing exodus was under way.

    • I don’t think there Canada has a problem with a level playing field in the auto sector. Very few cars are actually “imported” into the NAFTA zone. Shipping is too expensive. Within the NAFTA zone, Canada has the competitive advantage, since we are roughly on par with the States on skill & expertise, but our nationalized health care makes manufacturing cars more affordable here. The playing field may be tilted, but in our favour. There’s a convergence of crises effecting the industry. The first is deplorable management in the American manufacturers. Ignoring rising gas prices, no focus on quality control, caving in to every single union demand in exchange for union’s lobbying power, and spending billions on advertising to keep consumers buying vehicles that aren’t in their best interests aren’t problems with the playing field. And when they coincide with a collapse in the banking & real estate fields, it’s a recipe for disaster, but not a playing field problem.

  4. My one reason for optimism right now is that economists are unanimous in predicting doom. Since economists can’t yesterday’s sunrise if you played it for them on tape, I consider their morbid forecasts a light at the end of the tunnel. Albeit a faint one.

    • Hear, hear. I agree. There’s onlt a handful of economists worth listening too. If an economist admits he doesn’t know everything then he might be worth listening to.

      • Economist Hello Harper is one with a Masters degree ……. just remember it was those clowns who got us into this mess selling the future for hedge fund managers. Who got the $ billions of taxpayer bailout money …… banks and financial institutions …. around the world ….. with no contracts ,,,, no accountability … and now the news is they want more ….. It is like asking the greatest train robber in history Jessie James which train to put your money on …… Next trick is wage freezes and wage roll back and even pensions ( now being reported in the US) ….. so do you want to believe some economist ….. good …. you put your money on Wall Street ( now reported to be DOA due to any lack of confidence in public) or the TSX (getting there) ….. hello … now there are talking Securities Regulation …. matters not ….these clowns move the money offshore to play silly games (to inflate their numbers and bonuses) ….. that is what got us in to this mess ….. World Wide WTO Greed ( White collar theft)…. these clown made billions and socked it away …… and our money went south …….they went to Dubai ……. to be continued ……

  5. During the election, “Don’t Worry Be Happy McGuinty” wasn’t concerned about jobs. Companies were packing up and leaving and Dalton simply hired more civil servants. The province requires less electricity, but this hasn’t stopped the development of higher cost nuclear facilities where the unions have negotiated fantastic contracts for their members. Other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, are making regular trecks to the have-not province and luring some of our best to move west. Barrack Obama’s reforms to Medicare, will require more doctors, and there is an excellent chance that Ontario doctors will be lured away by offers of better pay, better working conditions and less tax. And there’s a good chance that the more reasonable UAW will out compete the CAW and bleed more manufacturing jobs from the province. Things are going to get very bad for the McGuinty province.

    • “Things are going to get very bad for the McGuinty province.”

      Very bad, yes. But not for the Mr. McGoo and his pals. Consider what happens in the halls of Q. Park and in the halls of bureaucracy when the stuff hits the fan and jobs go south, go west, go to Asia, or wherever.

      All of these bad things you describe are a boon to those in the govt. More misery, a bigger crisis, more unemployment – this is just the ticket for holding long sessions of the legislature, and then coming up with all kinds of expensive “remedial” programs. Bigger budgets for all kinds of departments and ministries. Bigger headcounts. More promotions and pay increases for the people who work there, because the “increased responsibilities”. More contracts being let out to cronies for office space, computers, transportation, consulting, etc. More pork to spread around those critical ridings which will determine the outcome of the next prov. election. And of course in cabinet ministers’ ridings.

      No doctors, no MRIs, electrical blackouts, more unemployment … Of course it sucks to be you when all this happens, but you know what they say, if you want to make an omelette …

  6. It’s all in the price of Gas,, if it stays around 75 and leave it there we will spend more on things we want ,, l had to down grade my truck,, WHY ? The big jump in gas . i want to buy another but with the gas prices the way they go no way.. I’II just save my money and stop spending on everything,, All because of the bloody Gas companys

  7. No job is safe. Everyone I know is scared to death right now – regarless of what they do for a living, from white collar professionals to blue collar truck drivers. With most Canadian home owners being about 3 mortgage payments away from losing their homes, I see nothing but dark clouds on the horizon. We are not waiting for a great depression – WE ARE IN ONE! The suicides at the top…they’ll be working their way down the social scale soon. How anyone can predict a turn around is beyond me because we don’t even know how bad it’s going to get! I wish everyone the best. I hope we learn how to act more like communities in our neighbourhoods instead of little sylos, operating independently of each other – not even knowing each other…you may need that neighbour or they may need you for survival soon. Over the years I’ve diversified my career in to many areas and am qaualified to do just about anything with computers, sell real estate, offer technical training, make drinks at a bar…but still…I don’t feel this will be enough. I hope times will return to prosperity in time for my teenage son when he hits the job market after university…ya, I think it’s going to take that long. :(

    • I think you’ve been watching too much news. Even if we get to a 10% unemployment rate, it’s still a 90% employment rate. People still need to buy toilet paper to wipe their behinds. They need to buy food to feed their families. Somebody has to make all these things.

      Will it be tough? Sure. But is it cataclysmic? Absolutely not.

    • I recognize that a lot of people are concerned for their jobs, but I am not. I feel quite safe working in the medical industry. People will always be sick, houses will always burn, people need to eat, sleep, drink, swim break the law, and such. There will be hard times but not for many people.

  8. No job is safe. Everyone I know is scared to death right now – regarless of what they do for a living, from white collar professionals to blue collar truck drivers. With most Canadian home owners being about 3 mortgage payments away from losing their homes, I see nothing but dark clouds on the horizon. We are not waiting for a great depression – WE ARE IN ONE! The suicides at the top…they’ll be working their way down the social scale soon. How anyone can predict a turn around is beyond me because we don’t even know how bad it’s going to get! I wish everyone the best. I hope we learn how to act more like communities in our neighbourhoods instead of little sylos, operating independently of each other – not even knowing each other…you may need that neighbour or they may need you for survival soon. Over the years I’ve diversified my career in to many areas and am qaulified to do just about anything with computers, sell real estate, offer technical training, make drinks at a bar…but still…I don’t feel this will be enough. I hope times will return to prosperity in time for my teenage son when he hits the job market after university…ya, I think it’s going to take that long. :(

    • “ya, I think it’s going to take that long”

      It shouldn’t take that long, but it probably will. You should have a short, sharp recession as bad investments, bad debt, bad companies and bad banks are liquidated. That is how every bursting bubble up until the 1920s was handled – free enterprise and free people stopped doing what was unprofitable and resumed profitable activities. What changed after 1929 was that you had a bull market in governmental arrogance, expressed as a will to “fix” everything, and a long bear market in common sense among the public.

      I know I’m swimming against the tide, but I will fight against it anyways. There is no excuse for continued public ignorance when so much accurate economic information is now available free for anyone to read.

      lewrockwell.com/orig9/recession-reader.html

      (note, most of the books listed for sale at the mises site except for the ones by Murphy and DiLorenzo are available free online at the same site, google a bit and you’ll find them)

  9. In my career as an electrician I have been laid off on or near December 24 four times in fifteen years. This time it was from North America’s largest solar power generating project. We raced to get a small portion of the project on-line to the grid on December 17. Jobs of this size require enormous amounts of capital and it may be that due to the ‘credit crunch’ the manufacturer halted construction, it might also be the somewhat different climate than California and the managers have never seen snow or cold. Whatever the reason I have learned to save some loonies for these times. It is never easy when you may have to live from week to week and when I hear complaints about the wages of construction workers I get a bit upset. I have had years of below poverty income and some good ones too, the simple trick is to spend less than I earn all the time. I can sympathize with all those who are being told not to report to work…it makes you feel unwanted. This latest downturn into depression is not only economic but emotional as well. To those without work in the near future I can offer a suggestion to take some time to help out as a volunteer in your city soup kitchens or shelters. Helping others will always make our spirits rise above our own despair.

    cheer Larry

    • Good luck.

  10. If you have looked at the Unemployment figures that were put out today by Stats. Canada, are not the actual unemployment numbers.
    Once you have fallen off the Employment Insurance Roles of any province in this country, you no longer register as unemployed. All the statistics that you see are based on the actual people on the dole and not people who’s benifits have already expired.
    If you want the actual unemployment numbers you have to change how you collect your information. As for a City of Thunder Bay, almost everyone who has been laid off by the forest industries, are no longer on the Employment insurance roles, hence they are not counted as unemployed. If you added them our unemployement rates would be close to 15-18 % of the population.

    If you want a big project that will help all of Ontario, the proper expansion of the Welland Cannel for movement of larger ships with employ thousands of people and take at least ten years.

  11. Don’t get me going on unions and their insatiable craving for more and more and more and more. Unions worked hard to get McGuinty re-elected. Why? Because they knew Dalton was easy. And the political arm of the Unions, Taliban Jack, who is supported by the Canadian Islamic Congress, used an underhanded method to try and steal an election from the people. Canada is rapidly becomming a hoplesly divided country.

    • With your Taliban Jack and Islamic Congress smears you are the one that is working to “hopelessly divide” Canada. Why don’t you reign in your own rhetoric and figure out a way to get along with other Canadians as your contribution to uniting the country?

  12. Tell me I’m not the only one not surprised by our current economic state. I’ve been waiting for this ‘correction’ for the last 3+ years! Was it not obvious to all that most were living beyond their means? Come on, how was it possible that the average family ‘appeared’ to have had a beautiful house with two new(er) cars in the driveway, children into all kinds of activities, equipped with the latest cell phones and gagets gallor, all the while taking in expensive family vacations each year… not to mention the expenses put towards lifes necessities!! My spouse and I bring in a generous annual income but at the end of the day, I know what we can and can’t afford. And it sure isn’t what I’ve mentioned above. What happened to everyone else?

    I enjoyed the perspective of this article; the good, bad and ugly. We may be in a recession but it’s not all doom and gloom; don’t get sucked into everything coming from the media. Now is the time to put things in perspective, regroup and return what one could never afford.

  13. I grew up in the forest industry and have survived countless boom, bust cycles and will no doubt survive this one too. The last boom was fueled by way too much credit and now all the cards, including most governments are maxxed out. If you want security of employment work in a funeral home. Not many repeat customers but eventually everybody is a customer.

    • Kim ……. things are far different to-day than yesterday ever was…… this is not a slow down it is a World Financial Crisis …. America is in serious trouble and fighting two wars of their own making ….. the worlds auto industries are in uncharted waters ….. we have the world’s largest every older generation about to retire worn out and broken ….. say what you will the new 65 is not 55, just like an old car, parts wear out …. health care is more expensive and demanding ……. there are many shortages in trained people to do the work as the younger generation know only computer work, Wall Street is DOA ….who in right mind will trust any fund manager ….. white collar crime is so big and spread world wide …. no rules can stop them …… and to top it all off the rich and powerful are about to smash the working class especially the higher middle class who dared move to close to their world …. Kim since the beginning of time the working class were the peasants and nothing has changed ….. think KIm whos children fight wars and fires ….. the rich – never happened ….. and our Armed Forces have become very unattractive and overpaid in their opinion ….. the list goes on …. all different from times gone by …… am I wrong? …. I hope so …. but each day the little guy/gal gets another slap in the face ….. world wide!

  14. I was ahead of the curve. I lost my job last year.

  15. Like Kim Morton above I started my working career in Cedar Mills here in BC so early on became very educated in the boom and bust pattern. Even though I have been in the IT business for 30 years now (started main frame computing in 77) the same patterns exist albeit not as radical shifts none the less they exist. Frankly I rarely feel sorry for the unemployed who sit around complaining about lack of jobs as I have never had to wait for more than 3 months to get another job a… s I turn getting a job into a job and will go where the jobs are … in which case I recomend Victoria right now as I just got back from a walk and a smoke and saw 2 help wanted signs in one block!

  16. I lose my job at the end of every job. That’s because the job is finished. If I don’t have a job to go to next, I live on my savings. I have no debt, because I worked in good times to pay it all off. I don’t live beyond my means. I have one credit card and it is paid off every month. My parents grew up in the Dirty Thirties. They didn’t have EI, welfare, CPP or Health Care. So, most people today should just get a grip. Your own parents made do with less.

    As for all the doom and gloom: gasoline is half what it cost a few months ago, interest rates are the lowest I’ve ever experienced and not everyone is out of work. people still have to eat, heat their homes, go to work if they are working, take the bus, go to school, teach, bank, and yes – still invest their money. Our population is still growing so we need to build more homes, offices, stores, string power lines, telephone cable, fibre optics. buy or sell office equipment, clothes, used vehicles, new vehicles, repair stuff, paint, renovate, relocate people, sell real estate, buy real estate, file taxes, call our accountants, lawyers, friends, neighbors.

    I’ve seen three recessions and survived them all, stock crashes, Dot-com crashes, Asian contagion, savings and loan debacles. The world didn’t end those times and it won’t this time. Sure people lost out, lost their jobs, just make sure it isn’t you this time and prepare for the next time because there always will be a next time.

  17. Yes indeed the worst has yet to come even thought (Canada’ s Economy is as strong as the Canadian Shield) ….. “Nothing in Politics happens by accident” having said that I would like to take everyone back to the Harper/Flaherty Autumn 2008 Financial Update ….. many wondered why they attacked government unions with a “No Strike Clause” after they signed a peaceful 4 year low wage increase contract …… Are all you journalist listening? ….. The US is now talking of wage freezes and wage roll backs …… now does it all make sense …. and if the government does it …. so follows big business ….. California is broke and so are many other towns and small cities and the banks now want more money …… hang on to your hats ….. Do you trust the dynamic duel of Harper/Flaherty ….. who will spend millions trying to sell the same old Separatist and Political Funding CRAP avoiding jobs and health care and telling us Canada is different …… different than the rest of word? We need our professional journalist more than ever …… the truth belongs to your professional talents …. if we lowly bloggers can dig this up ….. you can a least hold them responsible ….. no more silly questions pre-submitted …. and should them demand them ….. tell the public first with a blanket statement ….. this question comes only because Harper screened it first ……… and hold all Minister accountable….. bout time …. were sinking and all Canadians need to know the truth ……

  18. Jason ….. the boys were sitting in Tim’s this morning and I said …. look out the window guys … how many of these hard working people driving to work are thinking ” How long will my job last” many said almost at the same time …… “All of them” !

  19. So, is the government going to reverse it’s decision on mandatory retirement ages? If not, the baby boomers will work until they’re 80 and being dragged out of the office in a coffin. It’s too bad they spent all of their dollars spoiling their rotten kids and spending indisciminately to the detriment of the following generation that is getting the boot. Dinosaurs, retire!!!!

  20. The only jobs I would love to see disappear are those telemarketing jobs. Although we now have the “do not call list”, I still get these types of calls and I am really exhausted of reporting each one. And all the shady tradesmen who took advantage of the good economy and screwed me over big time with bad workmanship. Now with this economy only the good tradesmen will prosper. Good luck to everyone who has lost their job in the auto sector and manufacturing industries – I hope things will work out for you. I was outsourced 3 years ago from the best job in the world and have only been able to find contract work, which I hate as there is no job security at all!

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