Express Employment Professionals

Express Employment Professionals

May 17, 2017 10:00 ET

Canada/US Survey Reveals Unemployed are Optimistic but Stuck

President Trump elicits stronger opinions than PM Trudeau on job creation

Majority on both sides of the border remain hopeful but have not had an interview in the last month

Americans are unemployed for longer periods than Canadians

Canada's unemployed value "honesty/integrity"

American unemployed value "strong work ethic - trustworthiness"

Canada's 150th - Canadians optimistic about the future

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 17, 2017) - Express Employment Professionals today released results from two new polls of the unemployed in Canada and the United States. This is the fourth year in the "State of the Unemployed" series, a unique one of a kind survey focused on the lives and motivations of the unemployed.

The polls show that while both Canadians and Americans remain overwhelmingly hopeful, majorities in both countries believe their country is headed in the wrong direction. Majorities of the unemployed in both countries have not had a job interview in the last month, at the time of interviewing and the length of unemployment remains stubbornly long.

The unique national surveys of more than 1,700 jobless Canadians and 1,500 jobless Americans age 18 and older were conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express between March 14 and April 6, 2017.

Mixed Outlook on Trudeau & Trump Administrations

The unemployed in Canada have a more neutral position on the ability of the federal government to create jobs. When asked, "Thinking about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, what kind of impact do you think the government will have on creating jobs?"

  • 34 per cent said positive impact
  • 22 per cent said negative impact
  • 44 per cent said no impact at all

While the unemployed in the US were divided in the question when asked, "What kind of impact do you think the new administration will have on creating jobs?"

  • 39 per cent said positive impact
  • 35 per cent said negative impact
  • 26 per cent said no impact at all

To view the graphic, Trudeau/Trump Impact on Creating Jobs, please visit the following link:

According to the Unemployed in both countries "Headed in Wrong Direction"

Unemployed Canadians were asked, "Would you say things in the country are headed in the right direction, or the wrong direction regarding the economy?

  • 44% said country was headed in the right direction.
  • 56% said country was headed in the wrong direction

Unemployed Americans answered in a similar fashion.

  • 40% said country was headed in the right direction.
  • 60% said country was headed in the wrong direction

To view the graphic, Right Track/Wrong Track, please visit the following link:

No interviews in the last month

At the time of interviewing, 55% of both unemployed Canadians and Americans had NOT been on an interview in the last month.

Average length of unemployment considerably longer in the US, Canadian picture worsens

Unemployment remains a chronic condition for many in Canada and the US. Although the average duration of unemployment is longer in the US, the length of unemployment in Canada has been steadily increasing since 2014.

How long have you been unemployed (average in months)?

Canada US
2017 17.9 23.5
2016 15.9 26.3
2015 14 26.8
2014 12.6 23.2

To view the graphic, Length of Unemployment in Months, please visit the following link:

Fewer unemployed in both Canada and US report "giving up"

In one sign of optimism on both sides of the border both the unemployed in Canada and the US are less likely to agree with the statement, "I've completely given up on looking for a job," compared to 4 years ago.

In Canada 32% agree with the statement which is down from 39% who reported giving up in 2014, 38% in 2015 and 36% in 2016.

In the US 33% agree with the statement. A notable improvement compared to previous years, with 43% saying they had "given up" in 2016 and 40% in 2015 and 47% in 2014 reporting the same.

Canadian and American unemployed remain overwhelming hopeful

91% of Canadians and 92% of Americans remain hopeful that "I will find a job I really want in the next 6 months." And 49% of Canadians and 50% of Americans hold themselves responsible for currently being unemployed.

When asked about Canada's 150th birthday the unemployed in Canada were strongly optimistic (64%) compared to pessimistic (36%) about Canada's future.

The System favours the rich

84% of unemployed Canadians and 81% of unemployed Americans agree with the statement the way the economic system is set up "favours the rich."

Job search habits

Canadians Spent More Time Sending Resumes - Americans Spent More Time Filling Out Online Job Applications

When asked of the time spent looking for work last week (at the time of interviewing), how would you say you allocated your time?

Canada US
Filling out applications online 19.0% 25.8%
Filling out applications in-person 4.6% 6.9%
Sending resumes 19.6% 12%
Interviewing 3.2% 4.7%
Following up on resumes/applications 6.8% 6.8%
Researching job opportunities 28.6% 26.9%
Attending Professional Networks 3.2% 2.0%
Networking on the phone 4.7% 5.8%
Networking online 10.3% 9.2%

71% of unemployed Canadians report "visiting/researching online job boards" as a means of doing something to find a job - compared to 56% of unemployed Americans.

Among the unemployed who have used social media sites to look for a job, 57% in Canada and 58% in the US found "found social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)" as either extremely/very useful or somewhat useful.

Value Sets

When asked what work values do you think your parents modeled for you, unemployed Canadians and Americans had slightly different experiences.

Canada USA
Honesty/integrity 72% Strong work ethic 68%
Dependability/Responsibility 65% Trustworthiness 68%
Trustworthiness 65% Dependability/Responsibility 67%
Strong worth ethic 64% Honesty/integrity 66%

"At Express we are committed to getting people back to work, and we believe this annual survey provides unique insight into the state of the unemployed on both sides of the border," said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. "In an improving economy it's encouraging to see that optimism among the unemployed is up, but it's discouraging to see that many remain stuck with long periods on unemployment and no recent interviews."

This study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals included 1,756 Canadian adults and 1,500 U.S. adults aged 18 or older who are unemployed but capable of working (whether or not they receive unemployment insurance or in the US unemployment compensation benefits). Excluded are those who are currently retired, choose to stay at home, or are unable to work due to long-term disability. The survey was conducted between March 14 and April 6, 2017.

Results were weighted as needed by gender for age, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' penchant to be online. Totals may not equal the sum of their individual components due to rounding. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Kellie Major at (613) 222-7488 or email

About Robert A. Funk

Robert A. "Bob" Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 770 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than 6 million people to work worldwide. Funk served as Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve and was also the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

About Express Employment Professionals

Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.05 billion in sales and employed a record 510,000 people in 2016. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. For more information, visit

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