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Real Unemployment Rate = 11.3%

April 5, 2012

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Statistics Canada reported significant employment growth today for the first time in six months. As Andrew has already noted, welcome strength in March does not make up for the five preceding months of stagnation.

Compared to September 2011, full-time employment has increased by 21,900 while Canada’s labour force and population (age 15+) expanded by 59,100 and 151,000 respectively. Including the March bounce, Canadian employers have not been creating nearly enough jobs to keep pace with workforce and population growth.

Even focusing just on the last month, there was an important regional discrepancy. While employment growth in central Canada drove the national totals, the opposite occurred on both coasts. Employment decreased in half of Canada’s provinces in March.

The official unemployment rate’s drop to 7.2% will undoubtedly garner much attention. But with CANSIM data now freely available, it’s worth emphasizing that Statistics Canada calculates several unemployment rates. The R8 rate, which includes discouraged job seekers, people waiting for jobs and a portion of the part-time workers who cannot get full-time jobs, stood at 11.3% in March.

Erin Weir is an economist with the United Steelworkers union and a CCPA research associate.

UPDATE (April 8): Quoted in yesterday’s Hamilton Spectator (page T6)

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