Digging through the data

If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the BC economy you could do a lot worse than to check in weekly with the BC Stats infoline publication. BC Stats provides some concrete data and analysis that puts the province’s economy and labour market in clear focus.

This week’s issue(10 pp. pdf) has some analysis on productivity but also has some interesting things to say about labour shortages.

Together with the rest of Canada, BC’s population is ageing. In 2007, just over 15% of the labour force (those who are either working, or looking for work) was 55 or older. The proportion of older workers has been climbing steadily since the early 1990s, as growing numbers of baby boomers are approaching retirement age. As these individuals leave the workforce, the supply of available labour will be educed since there are proportionally fewer younger workers to replace them. This means that employers could be facing demographically-driven labour shortages in the future, regardless of prevailing economic conditions.

Bottom line: According to BC Stats it doesn’t matter what direction the economy is heading. Ongoing labour shortages will be a persistent theme as the BC economy moves forward.


Study: Canadian immigrant labour market

It’s been well documented that immigrants struggle in the Canadian labour market to find viable employment. A recent study released by StatsCanada once again confirms this but I want to point out a couple of positive items.

  • Where you live in Canada makes a big difference in terms of employment outcomes. In Ontario and British Columbia, immigrants with Canadian degrees had employment rates similar to those of Canadian born graduates.
  • How long you have been in the country makes a huge difference as well. The gap in employment rates between degree-holding immigrants and the Canadian born narrowed the longer an immigrant had been in Canada.

Employment quality rising

On Monday we looked at the number of jobs that were being created in Canada. The quantity of new jobs is important to track because it is one indicator of a healthy economy. Another important piece of the puzzle has to do with the quality of these new jobs. Are the jobs that are being created all part time and of the minimum wage variety ? If these types of jobs are being created then the overall economic picture is less pleasing to the eye.

A new report by CIBC World Market claims that while Canada’s job creation engine is slowing the quality of jobs is on the rise.

… the main factor behind the surge in our quality measure was a favourable wage distribution of full time paid employment. And this indicator has improved notably over the past year. The number of full-time paid employees in high-paying sectors such as manufacturing of beverage, tobacco and electronic and printing products as well as mining, farm product distribution and internet services rose by a strong 6% in the past year and by 3.5% during the last six months alone. At the same time, the number of jobs in low-paying sectors such as repair & maintenance and clothing and clothing accessories, rose by less than 1% during the past year and was unchanged in the past six months.

Source:Employment Down, Quality Up, CIBC World Markets, 5pp. (pdf)

Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate the lowest in Canada

The latest release of StatsCanada’s labour force survey shows that the employment picture in Victoria remains strong. The unemployment rate in Greater Victoria is at 3% which is the lowest in the country. The construction sector is seeing an easing of demand and labour shortages are not as acute as they have been in recent years.

As far as the national picture goes the largest growth for June was in professional, scientific and technical services, where there were over 37,000 new jobs added to the economy.

In search of a shortage

Print media is full of articles that claim there is a labour shortage in Canada. It is reported so often and is so rarely challenged that this bit of conventional wisdom has taken hold to the degree that it is widely assumed that there are not enough workers in Canada to fill all of the available jobs.

This is partly true. Canada is not suffering from a people shortage however but rather a skill shortage. There are sectors where skilled workers who are looking for work are few but famed demographer David Foot reminds us that this problem will be solved in the near future by the demographic realities of Canadian society. He claims that baby-boomers will be prepared to stay on the job longer and that their children (echo boomers) exist in sufficient quantity to solve the skill shortage problem.


Greater Victoria: lowest unemployment rate in Canada

The latest employment numbers from StatsCanada shows that jobs are continuing to be created at an impressive rate in the Victoria region. Over the last 12 months over 13,000 jobs have been added to the economy including 1,800 for last month. Some sectors were creating more employment growth than others.

Most of the new employment was in educational services, healthcare and social assistance, accommodation and food services and social assistance, said Vincent Ferrao of Statistics Canada.

Sixty-seven per cent of the population over the age of 15 is in the workforce.

“Perfect Storm” in the Construction Sector

Those of you who work in the construction industry will want to review this press release which looks at labour market demand for this sector. The Construction Sector Council’s annual forecast of labour market trends predicts that 94,000 new workers will be needed over the next 8 years to keep pace with new projects. Another 162,000 people are required to replace retiring workers.

BC and Alberta are leading the way in terms of projected employment growth in this sector.

Resource: Construction Sector Council