Friday, November 02, 2012

Weird is Normal in Canadian Employment Data

Statistics Canada continues to prove its lack of credibility by reporting another set of bizarre employment numbers for October 2012.  Amidst all the doom and gloom employment reports that pour out of US media, Canadian job creation seems to continue on its consistent but lackluster path to prosperity. In typically Canadian understated fashion, things look pretty good on the north side of the 49th.
Statistics Canada Employment 1000's
The employment graph shows that Canadian jobs have grown constantly since the low in June of 2008 to our current record high.  While little changed in October 2012, jobs grew over the previous 12 months by 157,000 (+1.4%) in the private sector and 74,000 (+2.1%) in the public sector.  All job growth has been primarily full-time.

In a similar report today from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, America created 171,000 new jobs in October but not enough to budge their persistent unemployment rate off of 7.9%.  The Canadian unemployment rate also remains unchanged at 7.4%.   Canadian net growth of 1,800 jobs in October evoked the same insignificant response as 171,000 new jobs in the US.  It seems that size really does matter. 

The Bizarre
It’s difficult to understand how Statistics Canada can report (with a straight face) that Quebec gained 23,300 part-time jobs during the month of October while Ontario lost 39,800 part-time jobs in the same one month period.  Was there a barista boom in Quebec and a corresponding coffee crash in Ontario? Certainly Quebec students did not all rush out and find part-time jobs in October to start paying for their education. Education in Quebec is practically free!  Notwithstanding the low tuition, they think they shouldn’t have to pay regardless.

It is also difficult to believe the StatsCan monthly report claiming self-employed Canadians decreased in October by 14,900 while employee status workers increased by 16,600.  There aren’t any reasonable explanations for this.  I’m newly self-employed and loving it. I assure you that their estimate is off by at least 1 person if not by 100%.  They reported it, but it probably did not happen.

Do you think it’s true that the Canadian Goods Producing Sectors lost 19,300 jobs while the Services Producing Sector gained 21,000 new jobs? They reported it, but it probably did not happen.

It seems odd (unbelievable) to me that that the bean counters could stand behind a report that points to a huge shift from goods manufacturing jobs to lower level service sector jobs while they also report a counter intuitive shift from part-time to full-time employment?  They reported it but it probably did not happen.

The transportation, logistics and warehousing industry and staffing industry recruiters across the country are struggling to find drivers, warehouse workers, sales representatives, customs brokers, dispatchers and management yet Statistics Canada says the sector lost 7,700 jobs.  They reported it but it probably did not happen.

Statistics Canada can be given some benefit of the doubt.  These numbers are pretty small and small numbers lack statistical significance and therefore lack credibility.  That’s not their fault.  But, if the stock markets and governments are going react, as they typically do, to a jobs report that says we only created 1800 jobs, they should first look a little deeper into the crazy components that make up the overall statistics.   

The reality is that employment opportunities abound.  There are good jobs for good workers.  Employment matters and it’s a great time to be a Canadian.

               Steve Jones

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