Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

June 08, 2007 09:39 ET

CLC: Job Quality Continues to Slide

Canada's economy sheds another 12,000 manufacturing jobs in May

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 8, 2007) - Another 58,000 private sector jobs disappeared last month, 12,000 of them in the manufacturing sector, which continues to crumble under pressure from a soaring Canadian dollar with no sign of help from the federal government. This puts the total number of lost manufacturing jobs at 64,000 since January, according to Statistics Canada's monthly Labour Force Survey.

"How many well-paying, full-time jobs does the Canadian economy have to lose before the federal government wakes up and realizes we've got a crisis on our hands?" asks Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Georgetti says too many decision makers in Ottawa are allowing themselves to be fooled by a steady unemployment rate when the numbers clearly show the quality of the jobs available to Canadians is on the decline.

Paid, full-time employment slipped in May, but the loss of those jobs was balanced off by a growth in the number of people who consider themselves self-employed. Most self-employed positions are less secure and lower paid than the jobs of employees. Even more startling is the fact that almost all of the new paid work created so far in 2007 has come in the form of sales and services - 226,000 out of 229,000 - a full third of which fell in the lowest paid industrial category of all (accommodation and food services).

"Yes, there are jobs out there, but it's clear the quality of new jobs being offered to Canadians month after month pale in comparison to the jobs that are being lost. I think people deserve better," says Georgetti.

The unemployment numbers - In May 2007, last month, the unemployment rate held at 6.1% with the loss of employed work being offset, once again, by a gain in self- employment. The manufacturing sector continues to bleed jobs: 12,000 were lost in May, adding to the 19,000 lost in April. Over a quarter of a million jobs have been lost in that sector over the past five years. Last month, the number of Canadians who wanted to work but did not have a job stood at 1,083,600.

Economist Andrew Jackson's Analysis

Today's labour force survey shows an alarming deterioration in job quality and gives the lie to the idea that Canada has a very tight job market just because we have a low unemployment rate.

In May, we lost 58,000 paid jobs in the private sector, offset by a big jump in self-employment (up by 56,000.) Fully two-thirds (69%) of the new jobs created since last December have come in the form of self-employment. Most self employment positions are lower paid and less secure than the jobs of employees.

We lost another 12,000 reasonably well-paid manufacturing jobs in May, on top of the 19,000 manufacturing jobs lost in April. The pace of job loss in this sector is clearly accelerating as a result of the recent run-up in the value of the Canadian dollar. Meanwhile, we have lost 16,000 primary resource jobs (forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas) since December.

It is clear that the quality of the new jobs falls far short of the quality of jobs being lost due to industrial restructuring. Strikingly, almost all of the growth in paid employment over the past year (226,000 out of 229,000 positions) has been in sales and services jobs. This is the lowest paid occupational category, where many jobs are part-time. One- third of the new jobs created since December have been in the lowest paid industrial category of all - accommodation and food services.

Displaced industrial workers clearly face a huge hurdle in terms of finding new jobs of comparable quality. The situation is worst in Ontario. Here, 32,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since December, but total employment in the province is up by just 21,000, and all of these new jobs were in accommodation and food services (up by 26,000.) The picture is only a bit brighter in Quebec, where 31,500 manufacturing jobs have been lost to date this year.

With a 6.1% unemployment rate, many believe that the Canadian economy is operating "above capacity." The Bank of Canada is planning to raise interest rates soon, and the federal government is expanding its temporary foreign worker program.

Yet the figures clearly indicate that the quality of the new jobs is very low, suggesting that many Canadian workers would be available to take up reasonably well-paid and secure jobs. If they were being created.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site:

Contact Information

  • Canadian Labour Congress
    Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425 and 613-863-1413
    Canadian Labour Congress
    Andrew Jackson