Canadian workers are being underutilized: CLC chief

Angella MacEwen —

The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says that too many Canadian workers are stuck in part time jobs and others have given up looking for work altogether.

Ken Georgetti responds to Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

Georgetti was commenting on the Labour Force Survey for October 2013. “I get letters almost every month from people who have been looking for full-time work and and can’t find it,” Georgetti says. “I get other letters from parents whose kids have graduated from college and university with student debt and can’t find work. Often those young people are forced to live in their parents’ basements. It’s heart-breaking.”

According to Statistics Canada, there were 1,325,000 unemployed Canadians in October, the same number as in September, and the overall unemployment rate remained at 6.9%. In the 15-to-24 age group, official unemployment rose to 13.4% as more young people entered the job market. In September, the unemployment rate among young people was 12.9%. Fully 47.8% of young workers were employed only part-time in October, the same percentage as in September.

“We have a problem with persistent and high unemployment but the Finance Minister insists that we have to pursue austerity and cutbacks,” Georgetti says. “This is causing untold hardship to individuals and families and it also means that our economy is producing at far below its potential.”

Georgetti says Ottawa has a responsibility to assist in job creation and training. “We have more than a million unemployed people who want to work and contribute to their own and our nation’s prosperity.”


CLC Senior Economist Angella MacEwen’s analysis:

CLC Economist

Angella MacEwen
CLC Economist

There was literally no change in the number of unemployed or the unemployment rate in October. The small gain of 13,200 jobs exactly matched the growth in the labour force, leaving the unemployment rate at 6.9%. Most of the jobs gains in October were in the public sector, driven by the health care sector. The youth unemployment rate rose to 13.4% as more young people entered the job market.

Looking at a longer term change in industrial sectors, manufacturing has lost over 50,000 jobs since October 2009, and construction has gained over 150,000 during the same time period. The largest job gains over this period have been in health care and social assistance, with the addition of nearly 240,000 jobs.

While the unemployment rate stays at 6.9%, a broader measure of unemployment shows more weakness in the labour market. The under-utilization rate has been rising. That measure includes people working part time on an involuntary basis and those who have given up the search for work. In the three Octobers prior to 2009, labour under-utilization measured an average of 11%, and it rose to 14.5% in October 2009 (not seasonally adjusted). For the past three Octobers, this measure has been at or near 13%, recovering less than half of the losses from the recession. There remains significant room for fiscal stimulus to improve labour market conditions.

The unemployment rate for newcomers with landed immigrant status is 8%, which is higher than the average rate. Persons who have received landed immigrant status more recently — within the past five years — have an even higher unemployment rate at 11.2%. The unemployment rate for young workers born in Canada was 12.5%, compared to 17.4% for young workers who have been granted landed immigrant status.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.