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​Canada Is Gaining Jobs That Suck

It seems like there's a trend in low-paying, temporary positions being responsible for a lot of the so-called "job growth" in Canada.

Jake Kivanc

Jake Kivanc


Photo by author

In a post-2008-economic-collapse world, any news about job growth feels like good news. But last week's Statistics Canada announcement that 67,200 jobs were added in September might not be such a good thing. In fact, it's looking pretty grim.

According to a report published by Capital Economics, the huge job gains in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) were primarily part-time, self-employed, and poorly-paid positions, with many of these jobs going to people over 55.

The report details that, while an average of 150,000 jobs are being added every year (roughly 12,200 per month, according to StatsCan), part-time employment has jumped by around 100,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

Part-time employment only accounts for 19 percent of total employment in Canada right now (compared to an average of 15 percent a decade ago), but the report says that could spell trouble if the economy continues moving away from full-time, well-paying jobs. Available hours per week have also reached a two-year low of 33.1, and growth in income stumbled to 1.4 percent this year.

Job data from 2010 - 2016. Image courtesy of Capital Economics

"Not only do part-time jobs have lower working hours than full-time jobs, but the average wage per hour is much lower too," the report reads. "The drops in both average weekly hours worked and the slowdown in earnings per hour is a double blow for overall wages and salaries."

In August, a report from Oxfam Canada showed that young people aged 15-24 were facing a similar circumstance: high-unemployment outside of part-time jobs. While those jobs were abundance, they also paid very poorly and were consistently unstable. The report also cited that much of the good, high-paying jobs had either disappeared or were being held on to by older employees.

Basically, Canadians are working less hours and getting less money for doing it.

Miana Plesca, an economics professor at University of Guelph, is working on research that examines the disparity between full-time and part-time jobs through the lenses of rural and urban Canadian communities. One thing she notes is that it's not clear what jobs are "precarious"—or not full time.

"[Experts] don't necessarily agree on a definition of what precarious employment is," Plesca told VICE.

"We tend to think about unemployment risk and income risk associated with these contract-type jobs" she said. "And sometimes [those] jobs are OK, because they are just a step toward permanent employment, but I think the majority of them are not like that. It usually ends with someone working for a short period of time for little pay and then being unemployed. No promotion, no new job"

In addition to this bad news, the report notes that there has been no improvement in "a collapse" of high-paying jobs that began in 2015. Fields such as construction, mining, and manufacturing have faltered, while lower-paying jobs in healthcare (entry-level nurses, harm reduction workers, etc.) and food service have steadily climbed.

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