Monday, September 20, 2010

Some interesting employment data

Apparently employment has now risen to pre-recession levels. But there's a catch:

All the jobs lost during the recession in Canada have now been recouped, a feat that suggests the labour market has repaired itself in a mere four quarters, much faster than in previous recoveries.

But a closer look at Statistics Canada data shows the quality of the labour market has deteriorated by many measures compared with the pre-recession scene.

Manufacturing, traditionally a source of higher-paying work, now sits at a 34-year low. Contract jobs are proliferating, and part-time jobs have been added at a faster clip than full-time work.

The average duration of unemployment is longer than it was a year ago, even as some new jobs are being created. Nearly a third of people working part time are doing so involuntarily, meaning they'd rather be full time. Hours worked remain below the previous level, suggesting many people are still feeling their incomes squeezed.

From the Globe. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is likely to continue for some time. Thanks to peak oil, energy is going to become more and more expensive for quite some time to come, and the money to pay for that is going to come out of workers' pockets long before it comes out of profits. This is doubly true given that the worker's first line of defense -- unions -- are decidedly out of fashion these days.

What are the prospects for a resurgence in the union movement? The thing is, globalization has given management a potent threat - namely, to close factories and move their operations overseas if unions ask for something outrageous such as a living wage. This could change soon, however, again due to peak oil. As transportation costs make it less practical to manufacture stuff offshore, the old threat of "we'll pack up and do our manufacturing in China" will be a lot more expensive to follow through on. So maybe a resurgence of the labour movement is possible. Let's hope so, because I think we're going to need it.

1 comment:

unclebob said...

Selinger ia doing the right thing trying to sell things to China but it would even up the gap in labour cost if he would second a few union organizers there first