“Their jobs”


OTTAWA – The Canadian economy, defying all predictions, created a record number of new jobs last month, giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives fresh ammunition Friday to make their case that they are the best stewards of Canada’s economy.

Statistics Canada said Friday that, in September, the economy created 107,000 new jobs, defying predictions of economists who were expecting only one-tenth as many new jobs.
Statistics Canada said that it has never recorded such a large one-month gain since it first began collecting this data in 1976.

Wage growth was also strong, Statistics Canada said, an indication that those who have lost good-paying jobs in the still-ailing manufacturing sector, for example, have been able to find new jobs with comparable salaries.

Year-over-year wage growth stood at 4.6 per cent in September, well above the current rate of inflation, which is standing at 3.5 per cent.

When will this Prime Minister do something show he cares about this Great Depression soup lines Dirty Thirties R. B. Bennett thirty-year low in unemployment?


“Their jobs”

  1. Andrew, are you trying to make a point?

  2. As I just said on Well’s post…

    97,000 of these jobs are part-time.

    This is not cause for wild-eyed celebration.

  3. Unemployment might still be low but it is trending upward. Why do you think this is something to be ignored?

  4. Like Harper it appears Coyne’s head is stuck in the oil sands.

    Huge portions of Ontario and Quebec are in clear recession, thousands of $50,000-$60,000 family supporting manufacturing jobs have been lost and are being replaced with $15.00 service industry jobs.

    There is no easy answer but to say there isn’t a significant problem in Ontario and Quebec is frankly ignorant.

  5. You know this is the only blog/column/journalist who has consistently been trying to piece together economic information to show Canada is not going belly up?

    I appreciate it.

  6. I had no idea those polling companies hired so many people. Mind you, it does make kinda sense – the Law of Large Numbers etc.

    “A show of hands, who’s inclined to vote Liberal tonight? OK, Greens?”

    Meanwhile at Nanos HQ “OK, who do you like? Not everyone yell out at the same time”.

    btw releasing this on a Friday before election Tuesday is the actuarial’s version of an RCMP investigation announcement. Cheeky!

  7. You know this is the only blog/column/journalist who has consistently been trying to piece together economic information to show Canada is not going belly up?

    I appreciate it.

    How about adding this too:

    “Canada’s economy has added 193,800 workers in 2008, a slower pace than last year but still impressive given weak economic growth, the Canadian Press reported.

    The tight labour market was reflected in a 4.6 per cent year-over-year increase in hourly wages.”

  8. Because it’s not true. The national unemployment rate has varied between 6.8 and 6.2 for the last 22 months. It’s been at 6.1 for 9 of those 22 months.

  9. That last comment was for Robert, who’ll take it poorly, not for Riley, who wouldn’t have minded.

  10. Looks like the Dow will hit 7,000 sometime tomorrow or Monday and oil will hit $50 a barrel. Good time to get back in the market. No?

  11. One more thing though, what if Chicken Little really is right?

  12. This is the kind of objective concrete proof that will be discussed at the dinner table over Thanksgiving weekend just before the vote. Had this been a negative report, even slightly negative, we would have been looking at a Liberal minority government.

    The jobs report neuters the effect of the Afghanistan spending report and will give the Cons enough of a lift to keep them in a minority government, making this whole thing a bit of a waste of time and money.

    That Harper doesn’t care about Ontarians and Quebecers (other than their votes) and is out of touch with Canadians is clear. That the Canadian economy is doing OK – whether because of 13 years of fiscally prudent good economic stewardship under the Liberals or because of 24 months of Harper not being able to deregulate anything because of the minority government – is also clear. And that is in Harper’s favour going into the last weekend.

  13. Clarification: I cant’ decide if Coyne is wrong for the right reasons or right for the wrong reasons.

  14. I wish my name was Ted, beautifully said.

  15. Here are the productivity numbers if you’re interested.

    Canadian business labour productivity declined 0.2% in the second quarter of 2008, after declines of 0.6% in each of the previous two quarters. This is the longest series of consecutive quarterly declines since 1990.


    If that doesn’t reverse, companies are going to look for a quick fix by cutting jobs.

  16. Good news for the Conservatives indeed! And for so many people who are able to enter/re-enter the workforce.

    The article didn’t say how many were construction related, which I believe has fueled most of the job growth this year. With winter coming and a clearer idea of where the global economy is headed before New Year’s there is still a good chance the elected party will govern over a lot of pain.

    Opportunity to achieve greatness or crash and burn like so many before…

    Tuesday is going to be the most interesting election of my adult life I think! And i will be avoiding CTV coverage at all costs…

  17. I think many of us have a sense (and it may be a misinformed gut feel) that outside of oil, the Canadian economy (and manufacturing sector in particular) isn’t all that well positioned for the coming decades.

    That said, I don’t think Dion and Layton are helping matters by trying to overstate the current status of our economic health.

  18. 107,000 new jobs were created in September:

    Poll clerks, deputy returning officers, polling telemarketers, fund raisers, sign printers, website designers … the economy is booming, I tell ya!

  19. It would help if I’d written my original comment correctly. The unemployment rate has varied between 5.8 (not 6.8) and 6.2 for the last 22 months.

    That’s what the chart shows, along with an unemployment rate of 6.1 in April, May, July, August and (once it’s updated) September.

  20. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it generally accepted that an unemployment rate of around 7% is pretty much normal in a free labour market? (‘Frictional unemployment’, if my hazy recollection of intro economics serves me.)

  21. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it generally accepted that an unemployment rate of around 7% is pretty much normal in a free labour market? (’Frictional unemployment’, if my hazy recollection of intro economics serves me.)”

    The natural rate of unemployment will differ from country-to-country based on differences in public policy, culture, etc. In Canada it is accepted to be around 6-7% and in the United States closer to 5-5.5% (if my memory is correct).

  22. I would love to see some Ontario/Quebec specific numbers.

    Perhaps my index of refraction, being a resident of the Niagara region, is particularly distorted but we’re in rustbelt territory out here.

    That as a nation we’ve begun to exploit the tremendous natural resource in northern alberta and our national economy is essentially treading water speaks volumes about the depths of the recession in large swathes of southern ontario and quebec.

  23. “Bloodbath as Panic Selling Devastates World Markets” – headline Fox News.

    There is a lot of concern out here in Canada. This looks different than anything we’ve seen before, and it’s scary.

    Keep up the snarky, contrarian views. It sustains democracy.

  24. Robert McClelland: Attempting to say that any one of those graphs represents an upward trend, that is silly.

    Not only that, 6.2% is low, historically (over the last 30 years or so), for Canada.

    You are proving Andrew Coyne’s point.

    Anyway, the problem is that many people have seen their stock portfolios tank. Of course, this is due to a worldwide phenomenon. When compared to other countries, Canada is doing well.

    Other countries’ banks are failing. Canada’s are not.

    But people don’t care, they have seen their portfolios tank and they want the government to pay a price for it.

  25. sf,

    I think there may be a bit more to it. When a company’s stock value goes down, they usually need to cut costs to try and reverse the trend. Those cost savings are usually realized through layoffs. Given Harper’s general thesis that the government has very little to do with job creation, a lot of folks may be concerned. Also, one can predict that a diminished stock market will soon influence the buying power of many, and further put pressure on the manufacturing sector, in particular.

    Whether or not folks buy Dion’s claim that the Liberals can prevent job losses in the face of this is another matter.

    But for Harper, and even Andrew Coyne, to downplay the concerns of Candians as spurious is not fair. The stock market does have a direct relationship to the working future of the population, and lots of us are less worried about the enonomic indicators of today, so much as those to come in the next year or two.

  26. When 90% of the jobs created are partime jobs It is actually a sign of a sick economy when so many jobs that will not pay enough to support oneself are created.
    I have the feeling that part of the big jump is creative counting such as people being hired to replace students returning to school do not really count as new jobs
    The only jobs that should be counted are jobs that pay enough for a person to live above the poverty line for their area.

  27. Hmmm…I wonder what kind of jobs. Are they Full-time? Part-time? Casual?

    Who cares if they are casual jobs? That I think that would actually speak to a more disturbing trend of more people are living hand-to-mouth. This kind of surge is just ridiculous to consider as evidence of a turn-around in the job market.

    And how come no one mentions the dynamic duo of Harper and Flaherty saying on one hand that banks don’t need bailing, and on the other, giving them $25 billion so that they can continue to lend?

    I’m surprised that all of these arm chair economists aren’t being driven crazy by all of this…


  28. Theory of Irrational Behaviour:

    When faced with mountains of evidence that prove otherwise, the people that previously convinced themselves that the sky is falling will continue to believe it to be true.

  29. Mr. Coyne,

    We of working age will muddle through this collapse. Perhaps a bit scratched up, but we’ll likely be okay. That’ not the problem. This is:

    “Canadian pension plans suffered their worst quarterly loss in a decade in the third quarter, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer.”

    “The firm estimates a pension fund that was fully funded in 1998 would now only have 72 per cent of the assets required to pay all pension promises.”


    Watching 10 years’ worth of people’s retirement savings being wiped out is bad enough, but we’ll now have to deal with the impacts and costs of aiding the portion of the population no longer in the work force and several pennies short of a dollar. It’ll take many more part-time jobs to fill that void.

    BTW: Will you support Mr. Harper given that, two and a half years into his mandate, he’s failed to gain the support of more than 34% of Canadians and reversed himself on Afghanistan timelines, industry specific bailouts, transparency, etc.?

    Just curious.

  30. Oh hi Brian, I see you weren’t able to follow the basic steps I set out for you elsewhere…

    But I understand your profound sense of reason:

    Number big look good.

    (I think that was written at an appropriate level for you: monosyllabic, four words).


  31. By the way, Brian,

    How are those stock purchases doing that Harper recommended last week?



  32. Andrew given you clear intent of arguing that their is nothing wrong in the economy and thus criticisms of SH are unfounded, pls reconcile 1) why he and Flaherty intervened in the economy this morning; or 2) why you are not criticizing them for doing so.

  33. Austin: for someone who infers a certain self-mastery in the grammatical construction of the english language, it’s interesting that you are the only commenter who finds it necessary to reassuringly sign your name after every post.

    It would be more helpful if you started signing your posts with a more appropriate name that doesn’t already appear in the title but still obvious enough for everyone to know that it’s you. I recommend Douche.

  34. Oh snap! Austin just got the smackdown. Lmao.

  35. Number of Canadians who got part-time employment working on the 2006 Federal Election:


    (Source: Elections Canada – Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006)

    I think we’ll see a more realistic job creation rate when the 2008 election has ended.

  36. Andrew, love it when you sneer, but come on, be real. It’s not about the economy today, it’s about the economy tomorrow.

    Americans will stop buying cars > Canadians will stop producing them.

    The Americans stop buying Chinese electronics > Canadians stop selling the Chinese copper

    Americans stop building houses > we stop chopping down our trees

    and on and on and on, with oil, other metals, and the rest.

    Oh Boy
    “Canadian pension plans suffered their worst quarterly loss in a decade in the third quarter, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer.”

    “The firm estimates a pension fund that was fully funded in 1998 would now only have 72 per cent of the assets required to pay all pension promises.””

    Yep, the pension plans will take a hit. Like I already said, I got a jacked up insurance rate because the company needs to make good on investment losses. Insurance premiums will go up universally.

    Please, Andrew Coyne, say more. More! I want to come back here in January 2009, when everyone takes stock of the Christmas shopping season that utterly fails to materialize, and the recession really hits the fan. I want to post some of your comments about strong September job growth then.

  37. If there are examples, I’d love to hear them, but would it not be unprecedented in Canadian electoral history, for a sitting government to be replaced when the unemployment rate is as low as it is, and absent any truly serious scandal?

    That last part is to account for the last election, at which point unemployment was 6.4% I do believe (so it’s come down since), but there was that little ditty called The Sponsorship Scandal hanging over things.

  38. I’ve been thinking about lemmings lately, small rodents who every so often gather together and in a mindless, unexplained moment run to the edge of the cliff and throw themselves over to their deaths.

    It’s clear that under normal circumstances, each lemming knows that falling over the cliff is a deadly thing to do. It’s just as clear that they usually keep their wits about them and avoid the edge of the cliff but it’s just every now and then. It’s a form of mass hysteria, started by a few that feeds on itself until they all get swept up in it and follow blindly.

    It’s pretty much the same thing with this election and I have never been more disappointed to be a Canadian. We have a government that for the most part has kept our economy reasonably insulated from what has happened world-wide, a government that for the most part kept it’s election promises and that for the most part has provided good governance. It isn’t perfect but compared to governments in the past, it is better than most we have elected.

    Still, there is this great rage agains Steven Harper as though he single handedly is responsible for every little thing that annoys, frustrates, angers, abuses or frightens each and every one of us.

    Have we really become so incapable of thinking anymore? Are facts so completely less relevant now that empty rhetoric and unsubstaniated opinion? It appears so and it also appears that more and more Canadians are behaving like lemmings, buying into the fear-mongoring of the moment and rushing headlong into some kind of econominc and political abyss.

    Anyone but Harper? Be careful what you wish for. Once you jump over the cliff, it will be too late to wish you had voted for common sense pragmatism instead of wishful thinking and untried experiments with your future.

  39. Pete,

    There is an adjustment in the real economy coming, if it isnt happening already.

    AC is pointing to the hype. The opposition leaders have an interest in hyping bad news, but no credible alternative is offered. And there is the stark contrast that by all objective measures things arent as bad as some would say….that doesnt mean there isnt a risk of it getting worse.

    A year ago, according to Allen Gregg on the National last night, more canadians in the history of their surveys, said things were great. So how much of that was a predictor of the future.

    Objectively, the drop in Pensions Savings….home prices haven really abated much (small decreases outside of certain inflated markets)…and drop in market portfolios will have a wealth effect, people will fell poorer because for compared to what they were they are. One would expect pull backs.

    The real concern is the demand drops that will happen in our import and export markets, as someone pointed out…less cars produced to fewer buyers in the US and less copper sold to producers of electronics because less electronics are sold. We will see demand pullbacks here as well.

    Andrew’s point, if I might be so bold, is that none of these is out of the realm of our experience in the past. None of it is unprecendentred and more importantly none of it has happened…YET….

    So you cant criticize the government for a bad event that hasnt materialized…the current hype….

    Bad stuff is coming despite the government not wanting to talk about it, how bad and how soon is really an unknowable unknown. So you are left with a lack of facts and a lot of discussion around “feelings”.

    The other trend I notice here now is that now the government is beginning to act on some things, because the situation continues to deteriorate or not improve (take your pick) then there is criticism.

    So there was no objective evidence that there was a problem, and confidence issues are like Schroedingers Cat so you have to be careful how often and how you check and comment.

    Other countries are in dfiferent situations….if the US and Europe temporarily nationalize their banks do we do it as well, even if we dont need to? Is that inaction? Because thats increasing in probablility, not definite just it might be the only answer left to restore interbank trust. Will any Canadian government really have a choice?

    Watch how the markets end the day. The Lehman credit default swap auction was today and all the Banks are trying to figure out if they can all settle with each other. If they can all net out with nobody falling apart then the worst could be over…if they cannot or they dont know then we are in for another week of mayhem, maybe a 6500 Dow……

    Did I say this with rnough irony for a Macleans board?

  40. Austin SO:

    Anybody that buys stocks with a one-week time horizon is speculating, not investing.

    Harper’s stock advice should be evaluated three years from now, not one week. It was his way of saying that the long-term fundamentals were strong.

  41. Hey rabbit…is that kinda like the income trust thingy?

    Though I must say that it is nice to see that people value PNE/CNE summer jobs and election jobs as a strong indicator of economic health…

    “The fundamentals…are strong”.

    Go Canada!


  42. Brian,

    The witty repartee is astonishing to behold…I am humbled by your incredible sense of wit.

    Just remember the three steps to recovery.



  43. Hey Austin,

    Is that the best you can do? Seriously – you had your ass handed to you. I was hoping you’d recover with something witty yourself, but it looks like you were left speechless. You really have two choices: admit defeat and change your name to douche or dust yourself off and get back into this thing.

    Brian 1, Austin 0.

  44. I’m gonna say this again cause it’s even more true today.

    The opposition are ABSOLUTELY cheering for a recession. Elizabeth May openly stated she wants an 80 cent dollar. Well, after 5 or 6 days of market meltdown, we’re around the 87 (whoops make that about 84 cents today) cent mark, and if this continues she might just get her wish.

    Mind you, if you asked May today, she’d probably blame Harper for the current state of the dollar and ask when is that bad man going to “do something about that sinking dollar??!!”.

    Then when asked about her previous comments, she’d probably deny them. And when confronted with video of them, she’d claim she was misquoted, or she talks too fast for Canadians to understand her, or some other such nonsense.

    Will M. Dion disavow the comments of his Central Nova candidate? Does he share Elizabeth May’s position that Canada needs an 80 cent dollar? Inquiring minds want to know.

  45. Tikitalk, the weak Canadian dollar was the cornerstone of Liberal economic policy for about a decade; it helped inefficient businesses remain competitive internatioanlly despite being inefficient, and it kept many Canadians employed at less-than-minimum-wage when you looked at the value of their C$ compensation.

    Do the Liberals hope for a low dollar? In the last decade or so, that’s basically all they’ve known…

  46. Gee Gord, are you his friend?

    Bugsy Malone’s sidekick: “Duh…okay boss”

    Thanks for coming out, Gord and contributing in the only way you know how.

    MYL, have you ever considered that the low dollar reflected the loss of manufacturing sector? If a company in the US is equally efficient as one in Canada, simple demographics dictates that the US company will thrive while the Canadian doesn’t. The dollar reflects the will of the international market, does it not? And you want intervention? That seems out of character…

    I’d really be interested in knowing what kind of industrial base you advocate for Canada, because it just seems like you want Canada’s economy to be entirely resource and tourism based.


  47. Not really sure where to put this….but in the interests of sharing interesting links as to what drives the hour to hour and day to day machinations in the market and look for some explaination as to whats going on, since that is the first step to figuring out what to do, and in the case of the oppsotion leaders who to blame….

    Friday, October 10, 2008
    Are Hedge Fund Margin Calls Leading to Stock Rout?

    Hedge fund margin calls appear to be playing a role, perhaps a substantial one, in the precipitous fall in stock prices. One hedge fund manager told us yesterday that a West Coast hedge fund was supposed to have dumped a lot of risky fixed income positions late in the day yesterday. That affected the stock market over the fear that the distressed prices its paper was fetching would force banks and other financial firms to mark similar assets down, leading to further losses.

    But some believe that hedge funds are also liquidating stocks. And this research note claims that some prime brokers have arbitrarily tightened their margin requirements, This is not only plausible, but it has happened before.

    From Bull’s Eye Research (hat tip reader Marshall):

    The selling has reached historic proportions. There literally is a “run on the market,” as investors worldwide are dumping stocks. It seems that the major catalyst for this selling is the fact that the newest large banks primarily J. P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and possibly Morgan Stanley as well — have issued massive margin calls to hedge funds and other professional traders who use these banks as prime brokers.

    These calls were not issued because of market losses, but more because the banks arbitrarily decided that they wanted their customers to use less leverage. Margin rates as low as 15% for broker dealers were raised to 35%; hedge funds who had been used to operating on high leverage were told that they had to bring accounts up to a much larger percentage of equity.

    In this illiquid environment, where all manor of exotic securities literally have no bids, the only place to raise the cash to meet margin calls was to sell stock. That is what really set this market over the edge — as the first notice of these calls were issued on October 2nd and 3rd. There was something of a grace period to meet the calls, but funds realized they weren’t going to be able to meet them other than by selling stock. There are rumors that the most massive of the calls are due Monday (October 13th). If so, this market could continue to decline through then.

    end quote

    Standard stuff, of course in giganto proportions, but margin calls can be driving some of this. The good news if the margin calls are successfully met then we may have found solid ground, and the added benefit of some leverage will have been pulled out of the system successfully. Monday is sure going to be interesting.

  48. MYL, have you ever considered that the low dollar reflected the loss of manufacturing sector?

    The value of the loonie represents a ton of things, most notably the international demand for Canadian dollars. That’s not just manufacturing. It’s resources, it’s tourism, it’s finance, it’s attractive Canadian based companies seeking international investors, it’s the Canadian interest rate scene compared to other countries.

    The manufacturing sector relied on the wing-clipped loonie to stay in business without getting smarter. They have paid the price lately as resources gave the loonie altitude.

    I want Canadians to excel in the international marketplace at whatever it is we do well. Resources? Check. Tourism? Check. Services, Finance, engineering, check, check, check. Manufacturing? We’re losing there, time to cut our losses and find something else, for we will always have a hard time against the newly developing economies. Aerospace? Give me a break, the only reason there’s profit there is thanks to Bombardier execs finding new ways to hold the taxpayers upside down to shake out more and more loose change.

    Go with our strengths. Cut our losses on our weaknesses. Get and stay competitive. That’s how Canada stays in demand, and our economy prospers.

  49. From a recently released Statscan report:

    “Overall, Canada’s exports of culture goods, such as printed works, declined for a fourth consecutive year in 2007.

    Exports in 2007 were just under $2.0 billion, while imports were nearly $4.0 billion. The resulting trade deficit was about $2.0 billion.”

    Somehow I doubt Coyne will be taking Harper to task for cutting back on government support and being dismissive of the cultural industry sector in Canada. Nor will he likely mention how incredibly stupid the cuts to the GST were that the Conservatives put through.

    The economy is doing well in spite of Harper’s “governance” not because of it.

  50. There are two issues here – are leaders hyping the economy? ABSOLUTELY.

    Harper hyped it on the way up. The opposition hypes it on the way down.

    The second issue is whether we have real issues to face. Coyne downplays those. I surely hope he isn’t a DIY investor, for I’d have to worry about his financial position, based on the weak evidence he keeps producing to bolster his train of posts.

    I’ll see your employment report (mostly part time jobs) and raise you a 41 percent equity market crash, a massive and broad commodity crash (we are a commodity nation, remember?), housing markets tipped over (as an example, average Vancouver house prices are almost certain to fall between 150,000 – 250,000, putting buyers of the last two years deep underwater).

    That Canada faces serious issues isn’t being debated by market professionals at all. I’ve never before heard so many use the word “fear” in a personal sense as I have of late.

  51. A farmer bought a healthy young cow for $100. The cow gave birth to a calf and the farmer had meat and milk to feed his family. His neighbour noticed what a good cow the farmer had and offered him $200. The farmer was thrilled to know that not only did he have meat and milk but he had made $100 in his net worth. The next year the same occurred except this time the neighbour offered $500. The farmer was impressed his net worth had gone up five fold in 2 years! This went on for a few more years and with each new year the offered price of the cow went up. In the seventh year the farmer went to his neighbour and asked how much would you pay for my cow this year. “$100” said the neighbour. Heart broken the farmer went home his nest egg was devalued to what he originally paid for the cow. Sadly the farmer complained to his wife that their nest egg was wiped out.
    The farmer’s wife looked out a the cow contentedly chewing its cud and asked her husband how he could be heart broken. He still had the cow and the cow was still providing all the meat and milk the family needed and in fact the value of the ‘nest egg’ was purely imaginary.

    If your business is trading cows the market can be fickle. If you business if milking cows and slaughtering calves does it matter what someone else will pay you for the cow?

    When I invest in stock my priority is the profit/loss of the company not the profit/loss from trading stocks. I don’t make any money when the price of the stock went up and I don’t sell anymore than I lost money when the price of stock went down and I don’t sell. I make money when the company I invested in makes money.

  52. Some interesting comments on this blog, including houses for sale at $1, who owns the Federal Reserve, 140 companies ready for bankruptcy and much more
    The Coming Depression

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