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How the labour movement has failed minorities in Canada

How the labour movement has failed
Rachel Decoste, Huffington Post Canada September 2, 2014

Kudos to Rachel for her thoughtful and informative critique of the Canadian labour movement’s historical under-representation of racial minorities. It’s actually more cleverly written than it first appears (and it’s pretty clever as-is); the embedded web links make some interesting implicit connections.

Education Employment Financial security Youth

The kids aren’t alright: Unpaid internships among growing list of challenges


Unpaid internships focus of growing backlash
The Canadian Press, March 2, 2014

A few of the challenges facing younger Canadians, recently mentioned on these pages:

– While young workers accounted for about 1/6 of total Canadian employment in 2008, they incurred more than half, 240K of 400K, of real (population-adjusted) job losses over the past 5 years (link);

– Over the past five years, Canadians age 15-24 incurred ~32K job losses in Retail and wholesale trade. Unlike seniors, youth suffered job losses in nearly every sector since the onset of The Great Recession, the greatest being in Manufacturing, with ~80K jobs lost (link);

– Full-time post-secondary enrollment for youth age 15-24 between 2007/8 and 2011/12 (latest year available) rose 130 thousand, up 13.3%. For context, their LFS-estimated population rose just 60 thousand, up 1.4% between 2007 and 2011. Youth employment declined 145 thousand, down 5.5%, over the same period. While correlation isn’t causation, the simultaneous loss in youth employment and increase in full-time enrolment, both disproportionately greater than their relative increase in population, suggests many young people remained in / returned to school as they became disemployed – a form of labour market attachment (link);

– Young Canadians are increasingly being warehoused in post-secondary institutions as their careers are postponed, racking up student debt the federal government passed legislation to ensure they – unlike their parents – can never write-off even in insolvency. As an added bonus, they’ll have shorter careers and expected lifetime earnings with which to pay down those much larger debts  – since tuition freezes were lifted in the mid-90′s and fees multiplied five times since (link);

…and, at least according to the anecdotal evidence, now young Canadians have decidedly less – for many, nothing at all – to show for the extra debt they’ve taken on and time they’ve spent pursuing post-secondary studies in th wake of the Great Recession.

Perhaps a partial solution wrt student debt would be a fed/prov arrangement to deduct unpaid hours as paid-equivalents from outstanding government student loans, with some extension to students carrying private student loans/lines-of-credit based on need. But that would first require mandating employers account for the hours their unpaid interns work; given the increasingly exploitative nature of the practice, it should come as no surprise many don’t do so voluntarily.

Employment Social security Youth

December 2013 LFS: An alternative view. Just because it’s the first release of the new year

Chart 1 – Real vs nominal employment
Chart 1 Real vs nominal employment December 2013

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0087 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by sex and age group, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted monthly (persons unless otherwise noted), Statistics Canada

Told ya so (see last month’s comment re self-employment boom/busts).

Seeing as it’s been some time since this ‘alternative’ Labour Force Survey (LFS) report was started, it’s probably worth going back to update a few of the charts and tables previously presented. Unlike StatsCan, we’ve tried not to bore readers with the same two charts each month.

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September 2013 LFS: An alternative view. Employment demographics and a broken social contract cont’d

Break out the party hats and kazoos, Canada. The official unemployment rate has dropped below 7%. And just in time for Thanksgiving.

How did it get there you ask? Well…

The monthly changes in the official employment figures are notoriously unreliable. While we can’t vouch for the quality or accuracy of any of the data, the past couple of alternative LFS reports attempted to demonstrate the real, sustained loss in Canadian employment in general and youth employment in particular since the onset of The Great Recession.

According to the LFS data, adjusted for population growth, the Canadian labour market today is 400K jobs short of where it was five years ago.  The change in employment by age group over the last five years is revealing. Youth age 15-24, who accounted for a sixth of total employment in 2008, lost 240K of those jobs. On the other hand seniors age 65+, who accounted for a negligible share of total employment in 2008, saw a surge of 215K jobs. Even adjusted for popuflation, 115K more seniors are working today than were five years ago.

Q: Where are they working?

Figure 1 Employment by age group, Retail and wholesale trade
Chart 1 Employment by age group, Retail and wholesale trade

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0075 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employees by establishment size, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, unadjusted for seasonality, monthly (persons), Statistics Canada

A: As shown in Chart 1, increasingly, Wal-mart.

Employment Governance Justice Social security Youth

August 2013 LFS: An alternative view. Employment demographics and a broken social contract

To follow-up last month’s ‘alternative view’ of the LFS report, this month we’ll elaborate on the demographic issue that was touched on in the July 2013 LFS write-up. As noted elsewhere, reading anything into the monthly LFS movements is a fool’s errand. Readers are invited to view last month’s charts for the five-year trends for total employment and rate of unemployment. This month, we’ll take a closer look at employment and rate of unemployment for youth age 15-24 and seniors age 65+.

Chart 1 Real employment by age group
Chart 1 Real employment by age group

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0001 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by sex and detailed age group, unadjusted for seasonality, monthly (Persons), Statistics Canada

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Census 2011: Prison population rose 17.3% as population in shelters rose by only 2.8% (updated 25/09/2012)

With the release today of its 2011 Census families and living arrangements report, media, and doubtless reader, attention was likely diverted by the news that Statistics Canada had mistakenly counted same-sex roommates as gay couples.  What did not receive much attention today was the  2011 Census collective dwelling type release.  The release figures indicated a rise in the prison population of 17.3% as the population in shelters rose by only 2.8% (relative to the figures provided in the 2006 Census collective dwelling type release).  Yet between 2006 and 2011, crime decreased dramatically and the country went through a severe economic downturn.  Given these facts, the opposite outcome would have been anticipated.

Employment Financial security Social security Youth

July 2012 LFS: No silver lining in 30,400 job losses, report figures suggest real losses likely greater

The Daily Labour Force Survey (LFS) report today started off with a chart showing job gains between July 2007 and July 2012; it even gives a link to the data table (CSV).  Conspicuously absent is a chart showing population growth over the same period, to give the reader context.  What the chart says: 2007-2012 saw seasonally-adjusted job growth of 4%, from 16.8 to 17.5 million.  What the chart does not say: according to Statscan’s own estimates, Canadian population growth for those age 15+ was 6.8% over the same period, from 26.5 to 28.3 million.