It’s getting harder for Harper to brag about his record on jobs

A look at how sluggish the Canadian jobs market is becoming


SnailLast week Prime Minister Stephen Harper went to Calgary and declared: “Since the recession, the Canadian economy has created almost 1.1 million net new jobs,… overwhelmingly full-time, high-paying, private-sector jobs…” That sounded an awful lot like the boast the prime minister made a year ago, also in Calgary: “Since the end of the recession, the Canadian economy has now created one million net new jobs…” Harper didn’t intend it, but in a way these speeches highlight just how lifeless Canada’s labour market has become, because “almost” 100,000 new jobs is an absolutely catatonic pace of job creation. A few days later Canadians got a reminder of that with Statistics Canada’s release of  its Labour Force Survey for June, which saw the economy shed 9,400 jobs and the unemployment rate rise a notch to 7.1 per cent. Of the past seven months, four have registered employment declines.

It’s only when you step back and look at the labour market over a  full year time frame that the problems really emerge, though. Compared to a year ago, Canada’s economy added just 72,000 net new jobs. How bad is that? Let’s put it in perspective. The average level of job creation for any 12 month period going back to 1977 is 214,000. Canada is creating jobs at just one-third the average rate of the last four decades.

Employment growth since 1977

But let’s take a closer look at what Prime Minister Harper said about the types of jobs that have been created since the recession: “overwhelmingly full-time, high-paying, private-sector jobs.”

“Full time”: There’s no question that since the end of the recession the vast majority of new jobs have been full-time positions. But over the past two year’s the quality of new jobs has deteriorated with each passing year, to the point that since last June, roughly half of all new jobs were part-time.

Full time vs part time

“High paying”: This is debatable, too. If we break down the  jobs created since the recession by occupation, and cross-reference that with the average wages for those occupations over the past five years, it seems most of the new jobs have been in positions that pay on the mid to lower end of the scale. In fact, the two occupation groups that enjoyed the highest average wages (“Occupations in social science, government service and religion” and “Technical, assisting and related occupations in health”) have experienced net losses in the number of jobs.

Employment vs wage

“Private sector”: No debate here. Since the recession ended, slightly more than three-quarters of all new jobs have been in the private sector. But that’s not anything to get excited about. Since 1977 the private sector has, on average, accounted for 75.5 per cent of jobs.

What we’re left with is a job engine that is sputtering. Yes, yes, compared to other countries (read: United States) Canada’s job market is doing much better, as Joe Oliver was quick to point out when the latest jobs figures were released. But unlike those other countries (read: United States) we have a housing market that’s firing on all cylinders and a household debt-to-disposable income ratio near its all time high. Without the creation of above-average numbers of “overwhelmingly full-time, high-paying, private-sector jobs” it’s hard to see that not ending badly.


It’s getting harder for Harper to brag about his record on jobs

  1. I love the photo.

    It’s a long way from being the ‘envy of the world’ like he used to claim….and it wasn’t true even then.

  2. Remove Ontario from the equation, and Canada’s job market is bustling. Ontario’s become dead-weight for Canada’s economy, and it’s high time that province started enacting some economically-sane policies instead of constantly looking to the rest of the country for handouts.

    The Canadian economy shed 9,400 jobs in June….. Alberta, which remains the country’s growth engine, added 9,400 jobs, while Ontario suffered a steep loss of 34,000.

    So “Canada” loses 9400 jobs, while “Ontario” loses 34,000 jobs. You take the economic basket case of Ontario out of the equation and Canada gains 24,600 jobs.

    But I know, it’s un-Canadian of me to point out Ontario’s short-comings and the fact that it’s not pulling it’s weight in confederation. I used to think that Quebec was Canada’s economic basket case, but that’s clearly become Ontario now.

    • Ontario supplies 40% of Canada’s GDP. Remove Ontario, and you don’t have a country.

      Do TRY to be serious on here.

    • Not pulling its weight. What a reformist style Ontario-hating blob of sophist myth. Ontario is a net contributor to equalization, it has never taken a dime from any province, but it sure wrote cheques without fanfare to the rest of the country for half a century without fanfare, gloating or finger wagging.

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

  3. The real point is that with every TFW the Conservatives admit to amass cash for the government and favour with their corporate base, a Canadian loses a position as well as any gains in remuneration due to the whole demand & supply pressure on the ‘free market’.
    With every free trade agreement the Conservatives sign the total goods & services exports continue to decline…2000-46% GDP; 2005-38% GDP; 2011- 31% GDP Why? Because these are bad deals that do not ensure reciprocity of trade. Other countries want to ship goods here because OUR CONSUMERS HAVE MONEY and the goods for the most part are accepted without inspection and they need foreign currency.

  4. Harper inherited a surplus from Paul Martin and turned it into a deficit. He then tried to take credit for the strong elements of Canada’s economy, but blame the weak ones on the recession. Harper engaged in a massive amount of politically-motivated spending in 2006-2008, blowing through the surplus long before the recession hit. The reason Canada stayed in better shape than the United States was because of the highly-regulated banking system & safeguards put in place under Martin, not because of Harper.

  5. Harper has much more to worry about that jobs. Canadians stand for much more than an economy, they stand for principle, the charter, democracy and transparency, all of which Stephen Cruz despises. Shortly after Duffygate broke and Harper had changed his story several times, a large poll was commissioned – Canadians prioritized Harper’s apparent lack of credibility as much important than any tax cut he bandied around…Harper is the most bizarre, scandal infested PM in Canadian history. He is little more than a cartoonish and embarrassing imitator of US republican evangelicals. he has become increasingly alien to mainstream Canada. The weirdo is done. Time to put a real Canadian in charge. No vote suppression needed.

  6. What isn’t in the article is that the country is booming if you don’t include Ontario, which under the stewardship of Liberal Philistines.

    For example, in June alone Ontario shed 34,000 jobs, yet the country as a whole dropped by only 9,400. It is Ontario that keeps spending itself into oblivion and dragging the country with it. Its budgets deficit this year is greater than the sum total of the other 9 provinces plus the federal government.

    This isn’t a small detail, it is central to the story being presented here, and yet is completely ignored. The question is why?

    It is Ontario that is the outlier. It is Ontario that increases its record debtload every month despite being the recipient of transfer payments from the rest of the country.

    • You have your bumper stickers on upside down….none of that is true.

  7. Having won three elections, I think Harper could conceivably win a forth. The vote splitting on the Left is still there and he still does have a jobs fair and economy not completely in the tank. He also has, a very sketchy past of odd behaviour and a Party not quite enamoured with his political prowess anymore. Add to this is the age old attack ads that demean the PM and the Party more than the intended target. In a word, this is as good as it gets, Steve.

    • I don’t think Steve can win a forth, I think he has reached the rubicon, and knows if he backs out now, it will leave a cleavage in the party and I also think its too late for a new leader to get in place and try to recover from the deficit they(cons) are in now(only 14 months away), their would have to be a cabinet shuffle as well. Jason Kenny, Jim Moores, Peter Mackay(all anti abortionists)are not leaders(they take you back in time), they are followers, they don’t show leadership qualities. It takes character(one of the reasons harper looses the next election, lack of character)to be a leader, and not one of these guys have character or personality, they always work in the shadows, no transparency(Trudeau can walk in any crowd anywhere in this country), Jason Kenny is good at talking about getting things done, but someone has to push his butt to get it done, same as P Mackay. I would say the cons will end up with there base and nothing outside of that. Quebec and Ontario will eventually come around and vote for Trudeau because they know he is their best chance of getting rid of Harper, Quebec knows they wont get rid of Harper by voting for Mulcair, and real Quebecers have no time for Harper, and they never will vote for him. You cant demonize a segment of our society and expect the same people to vote for you during election time, just look at Atlantic Canada, and Harper demonized them. Harper is only going to have three provinces, maybe four he can depend on in the next election, but he is not winning big in any of the big vote rich provinces, Ont, Que., & BC.

  8. The western farmers have awakened to the realization that the so called promise land of ‘the free market’ is returning them less than 50% of the market price of their wheat where as the CWB used to return almost 95% of the market.
    Add to that the CN & CP dumping locomotives, grain cars & workers to ensure shareholder value and CEO pay packets, then having the hutspa to claim that the cold weather made grain delivery difficult…didn’t seem to affect the 200% increase in oil shipments or the $195 million share buyback announced at the annual shareholders meeting.
    He has alienated Quebec & Ontario & BC with his ministers & his policies.
    Harper better hope that Alberta can ensure his election, their the only ones left.

  9. It’s impossible for Harper to brag about his record on jobs.
    If he has hasn’t outsourced it all, then he’s TFW’ed everything else. Manufacturing is all but gone from Canada today, with the Professionals’ sectors not far behind.
    Just the “fetcher’s” are left.
    “Stephanie the Reformist”? – what an utter joke.
    …thankfully, the Cons will be gone soon enough.

  10. On a more positive note, 500,000 temporary foreign workers have a 100% employment rate!