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The layers of grim news in Canada’s latest jobs report



We’re losing construction workers, and any decrease in unemployment is basically due to new public sector jobs

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Statistics Canada’s latest monthly jobs report – officially known as the Labour Force Survey – seems at first glance to be full of good news. The country added 90,000 jobs in a single month, and the average hourly wage is up $1.57 from this time last year (the average Canadian is now pulling down $34.95 per hour).

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But beneath those rosy figures is the continuance of some very dire trends, most notably that Canada’s job growth is increasingly dependent on the further swelling of the civil service.

Canada is losing construction workers

April saw the Trudeau government unveil its unbelievably ambitious (and some would say impossible) plan to build two million extra homes by the end of the decade.

The construction sector’s immediate response to this plan, apparently, was to shed several thousand workers. It wasn’t much, but between March and April of this year, Canada counted 11,000 fewer construction workers, a contraction of 0.7 per cent.

New jobs are disproportionately owed to outsized growth of the public sector

If 90,000 new jobs is a better-than-average performance for the Canadian economy, it relied an awful lot on public sector jobs to get there. April saw another 26,000 people get government jobs, against just 50,000 who got private sector jobs (the rest were new self-employed jobs).

In the last year, meanwhile, the public sector has gained 208,000 jobs against 190,000 new private sector jobs.  

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Jobs are finally keeping pace with immigration, but just barely

Several consecutive Labour Force Surveys have noted that any job growth in the Canadian economy was immediately being swamped by sky-high rates of immigration. In February, for instance, 41,000 new jobs still led to a net decrease in the employment rate because immigration had added more than 41,000 workers to the labour pool. “Employment gains continue to be outpaced by population growth,” was how the statistics agency described it.

Job growth in April was finally high enough to outpace in-migration, but just barely. Those 90,000 new jobs didn’t yield any discernible benefits to job numbers; they just stopped its usual trend towards decline. Both the unemployment rate and the employment rate stayed steady at 6.1 per cent and 61.4 per cent, respectively.

The Americans, once again, are doing better than us

The preferred line of the Trudeau government of late is that Canada’s various economic ills are all attributable to global forces beyond our control. But job growth is yet another indicator in which the Americans are noticeably pulling ahead of Canada despite being subject to all those same global forces.

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Statistics Canada explicitly noted that unemployment numbers were doing much better in the United States. “The unemployment rate, adjusted to U.S. concepts, was 5.1 per cent in Canada in April, 1.2 percentage points higher than in the United States (3.9 per cent),” it read.

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Even though the popularity of online shopping and package delivery has utterly exploded in recent years, Canada’s oldest parcel service is now losing money faster than ever. Canada Post’s latest fiscal reports show that it lost an incredible $748 million last year – the equivalent of losing $18.70 for every single man, woman and child in the country. Perhaps most surprising is that Canada Post is now handling just 23 per cent of the Canadian parcel delivery market, as compared to 2019 when it handled a commanding 62 per cent. The Crown corporation’s president and CEO, Doug Ettinger, is under no illusions as to how bad this is. “Canada Post is now at a critical juncture — modernize and revitalize to serve a rapidly changing country or fall behind and struggle to keep it all going,” he wrote in the report.

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IRCC ministerial reply
Earlier this year, Conservative MP Lianne Rood queried the government on how much it was costing Ottawa to house refugee claimants who had entered Canada illegally (a category the feds refer to as “irregular border crossers”). Above is the official reply from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Of the approximately 7,000 refugee claimants who are put up in a federally run hotel to await their claim’s processing, it costs about $224 per person, per day. Photo by Lianne Rood/X

The U.K.’s Financial Times has just coined a new term for places like Canada: Breakdown nations. These are countries that used to be at the pinnacle of economic performance, but are now noticing that each passing year yields lower productivity and a dwindling national share of global GDP. While Canada can take heart at being in a club that includes the likes of Germany and Thailand, we’re besting all of them in decline. “Canada’s per-capita gross domestic product has been shrinking 0.4 per cent a year since 2020 — the worst rate for any developed economy in the top 50,” wrote the Financial Times.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
This is Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park located just northwest of Calgary. Under a proposal now being considered by the Alberta government, one third of the park would be flooded in order to prevent a repeat of the 2013 Bow River floods, which caused $5 billion in damage to Calgary and surrounding communities. Flooding a provincial park is obviously better than flooding Downtown Calgary, but the family who donated the ranchland for the park are now saying they wouldn’t have done it if they knew a good chunk of it was going to wind up permanently underwater. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

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