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Jason Kenney Gets His Job Data From Kijiji — Myths Regarding Labour & Skills Shortages Debunked

Boys n girls,  very recently, data from Stats Can and the Parliamentary Budget Office have been debunking the Harpercon propaganda regarding so-called “skills shortages”; sounding off on a supposed future “labour shortage”. It’s about time. Jason Kenney was recently skewered after going on Power Play with Don Martin, singing the praises of Kijiji.  I mean, forget Stats Can. Forget the PBO or any other reliable source. Kijiji is where it’s all happening . Kijiji, along with sites like Craig’s List, home of advertising fly by night operations and phoney get rich quick schemes.

Kenney said the site is the “classified page of the 21st century.” And “statisticians are trying to get a grasp on…, you can’t go to the dead tree newspaper anymore.”

Yup, and boys n girls, he could be the future PM of Canada. Ain’t that a comforting thought?

Personally, if I were unemployed, looking for work, Kijiji would be the last place I’d look. In fact, while so many are now saying the business networking site, LinkedIn is where it’s all happening, I would still be wary of many of the job offers there.  I think it’s the same with many other job seekers too, but ok Jason, whatever floats your boat, man.

Of course, now that he looks ridiculous, he went on a twitter tyrade, trying to walk back his praise of Kijiji for job search.

Kijiji aside, not only with Harpercons, but most governments at all levels when they come out with unemployment statistics, it only takes into account those who are actively looking for work. Folks who have made a claim for Employment insurance.  That much is obvious.  They do not take into account those who have simply given up or have only part-time jobs, who may be looking to upgrade to full time. Of course, it does not take into account those who are on the Welfare rolls outside of disability.  When taken into account, those numbers would be considerably higher.

Another problem when they calculate the data is that population growth, along with purchasing  is not calculated. More on that later in this post.

For the longest time, we’ve been hearing, ad nauseum, that there are labour shortages, mismatched skills and  skills shortages and that Canadians are just basically lazy, too picky and don’t have the right skills. Now, it’s refreshing to see the truth emerge.  In fact, StatsCan reported that now there are actually 6.3 unemployed workers per available job .  Yes, the truth can be inconvenient for Conservatives and Corporate Canada.  When Conservatives tout their so-called job creation record, many had taken it for gospel.  Critical thinking has not been at work, that is, until now. Here is the real break down of the Harpercons’ ‘stellar’ job creation record:

Nice try – boasting about job creation since the depths of the recession. But how about looking at the Conservative record since the beginning of the recession in September 2008 – instead of from the extreme low point – to judge how well we are doing?

This perspective, informed by data from the labour force survey of Statistics Canada’s key socioeconomic database , tells us how far we still are from a full recovery.

Between September 2008 and September 2013, 653,400 jobs were added to the economy. But more than half of those new jobs (53.4%) were in sales and services, the lowest-paid occupational category. And these jobs pay an average of just $16.47 per hour – they’re no substitute for the tens of thousands of middle-class manufacturing jobs disappeared during the recession. Further, 40.6% of these new jobs were in temporary, rather than permanent, positions.

And just last week, Statistics Canada reported that unemployment remained the same as the previous month – and well above its pre-recession level . Remember: this figure excludes hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have dropped out of the labour market altogether. The participation rate remained 66.4%, its lowest level in more than a decade.

Ah yes, those ‘service’ jobs that ol’ Jimbo Flaherty loved to brag about. A euphemism for jobs as Walmart greeters and McJobs at Timmy Hortons, which has also been using and abusing the Temporary Foreign Workers’ program (it should be noted that Temporary Foreign Workers have been occupying many of those ‘service’ jobs, thus  further skewing the numbers, most likely). It should also be noted that we’ve been increasingly seeing many of those service jobs like help desks, tech support for companies like Dell, Bell, and Hewlitt Packard and customer support have been sent overseas along with those lost manufacturing jobs, where labour is cheaper and there are fewer labour standards.

Even a report done on CTV Montreal on mature workers either seeking work or cannot retire even had Labour market analyst, Nina Kim, basically saying that best a mature worker can hope for are jobs in that ‘service industry’, yanno, telemarketing (which a lot of the time, is run by illegal fly by night companies; those jobs that we’d see advertised on sites like Kijiji and Craig’s List), retail, customer service, etc.  It’s nothing to brag about, seriously. The report, along with many others, pretty much say that mature workers can have hope because there won’t be enough young people to occupy jobs as the baby boomers retire. However, if this is true, how come youth unemployment is so high? There are logical answers for that that would again, inconvenience Corporate Canada and the Conservatives.  I will explore that at a later time when I do a post exploring mature workers. That CTV report is dated February 20 and is poorly done.  I intend to skewer it at a later date as well.

When ol’ Jimbo ‘no such thing as a bad job’ finance minister, he had no plans to address the disappearing manufacturing sector that once fuelled Canada’s two largest provinces — Ontario and Quebec.  Don’t count on Joe Oliver to address this problem neither.

Back to that ol’ skills shortage myth, the only province where this may hold true is in Saskatchewan.  A tiny province, this is not really helpful. Again, that methodology of arriving at this conclusion is flawed :

The PBO report critiques Finance Canada’s approach on several fronts, noting that it fails to place recent statistics in a historical context to determine how the data compares to previous economic recoveries.

“For example, the text on page 30 of the Jobs Report states that ‘Canadian firms are experiencing more difficulty in hiring than the unemployment situation would normally warrant.’ This is a conclusion that cannot be supported by cycle-over-cycle analysis as a result of the limited job vacancy data available over history,” the PBO report states.

That pesky parliamentary budget office again,  skewering the Harpercons’ erroneous data with facts.

Here are some more fun facts from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — not exactly a left leaning organization:

  • Employment grew by a “mere” 0.6%, the slowest pace recorded since 2009.

  • 95% of the net jobs created were in part-time positions, raising “concerns about the quality of jobs being created. In sharp contrast, all the net new jobs created in 2012 were full-time positions. Part-time positions made up nearly one-in-five positions in 2013.”

  • All the net jobs created were in the services sector.

  • The number of employed Canadians of “prime working-age” (25 to 54) declined in 2013.

  • The unemployment rate among Canada’s youth (15 to 24 years of age) remained above pre-recession levels, clocking in at 14.0 per cent. This is “up slightly from the rate registered 12 months earlier and is almost double the overall jobless rate.”

The 2013 budget report yet again tells us that Canada ranks #1 economically in the G7. However, their methodology for coming up with that assessment is flawed . The OECD actually paints a very different picture:

Within the OECD, Canada’s real GDP recovery only ranks 11 th out of 34 countries.  Canada is being beaten out by countries such as Israel, Australia, and Sweden, among others that aren’t included in the G-7 comparison.

However, looking solely at GDP growth does not provide an accurate and full picture of Canada’s national wealth, as it doesn’t include population growth.  If GDP growth is only equivalent to population growth, it is difficult to say that Canadians are better off.  Rather, the average Canadians’ access to economic output, jobs and standard of living is constant in this case. In order to have an increasing standard of living for the average Canadian, real GDP growth must exceed population growth, thereby providing more economic output on a per-person basis. Therefore, real GDP per capita is a better measure of how the economy is doing in terms of increasing Canadians’ standard of living over time (although it doesn’t account for income inequality).

Basically, the article points out that population growth and purchasing power are not taken into account when that 2013 budget report was being written. The fact is that Canada’s population is growing much faster than the rate of job creation. Here is where you would find the actual math . As the article linked above from Canadian Centres for Policy Alternatives points out, there are more people searching for their piece of the action. I can’t wait to see how those Harpercons and their corporate friends try to spin that one.

Canada’s population is one of the fastest growing in the developed world , with the working age population increasing at a rate of 1.3% a year. Canada has the fastest population growth in the G-7 and the 8 th fastest of the 34 OECD countries [2] .

Working age. I am going to guess they mean people between the ages of 18 and 55.

Back to that CTV report on mature workers, Diane Gabriel-Tessier, professor of Human Resources at UQAM was basically singing from a song book long written by somebody else.  A comforting thought, really. A professor who doesn’t seem to have a gift for critical thinking. She was saying that many employment sectors were facing a demographic decline.  How can there be a demographic decline if Canada’s population is growing at such a rapid rate?

Oh and by the by, wages have not been increasing, except of course, for the wealthy .

Further, the PBO report on Canada’s labour market found median real wages have stagnated since the end of the recession, while average real wages have increased, meaning it is only higher-income earners who are seeing wage increases.

Inequality continues to be an issue not too many are willing to look at – it displeases their corporate masters so.

Another reason why there are no labour / skills shortage is something not that many talk about. While we may love & have come to depend on evolving technology, the fax is that many of these technologies have made many occupations, skilled or not,  obsolete.  Yes, those are people who would definitely need retraining.  I just somehow don’t believe that Jason Kenney’s new job training program will be helpful and have no idea why on earth the provinces would jump to sign it.

There’s also basic Economics 101, boys n girls.  If there were really labour shortages, wages would be skyrocketing. Employers would be clamouring to offer the sky and the moon. This, of course, is not happening. If anything, wages have been stagnating and being driven down, albeit artificially by the Temporary Foreign workers’ program where those workers actually earn about 15% less than a Canadian doing the same job.

Another trend toward the downward pressure on wages we’ve been seeing happening is companies laying off  older workers who served the company for 10 – 15- 20 – 30 years++ under the guise of “restructuring” while hiring or shifting younger and cheaper workers to replace them.   It’s an illegal practice in Quebec, according to lawyer, Christopher Dimakos who does the Legal Lounge show on CJAD on Sundays. When laying off a worker, it usually means the position is abolished.  It is  perhaps also illegal other provinces (I have to research that further) to engage in these same practices,  but very difficult to enforce for a number of reasons. One I can think of off hand is that likely our law makers have corporations pressuring them not to do so (again, to be looked at a later date).

One sneaky practice by employers in both Canada and the US is to be hiring only part time workers or even dropping full-time workers’ hours to part time, all in an effort to save on benefits and such.  This might be one reason, as pathetic as it sounds,  an employer can use when letting go of a veteran worker in favour of somebody younger and cheaper — give that new worker part time status and say the full time position is abolished.  Definitely a loophole that must be plugged.  In fact, in Canada, only 1 full time job was created for every 4 part time jobs .  Bay Street, a gang that would usually be ga ga giddy for the Harpercons is not in agreement with their bragging.

  • Scotiabank note calls jobs numbers a shocker, weakest job growth by far since the recession.”
  • “Disappointment across the board,” said Mark Chandler , head of fixed income and currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
  • “That full-time employment growth is nearly flat in the past year while part-time job growth is up 2.5 per cent ‘indicates that businesses are not eager to expand payrolls,'” said Arlene Kish , senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight.

Needless to say, that service industry that ol’ Jimbo Flaherty loved so much, mostly hire  part time workers.

Labour standards have been clawed back by those Harpercons.  Thanks to them, an employee can no longer refuse work that is considered dangerous.  They got rid of a law that would require construction companies working on government projects to pay their workers a fair wage.  These are just some of the goodies. So, when I hear that we don’t need unions anymore, just take note that as union membership and clout shrinks, labour standards are clawed back.  Again, clawing back of labour standards is just another indication that there is no labour / skills shortage.

So boy n girls,  that leaves us with one question.  Why do the Harpercons continue to sound off dog whistles like mismatched skills and and labour shortages?  One has to wonder how they can continue to preach that mantra with a straight face.  They know that they’re trying to fool the masses. It’s all about ideology. Hence the increased lack of accessibility to Employment Insurance and yes, even retraining, particularly older workers who have lost their jobs whose skills are either industry dependent or have become obsolete due to evolving technology as mentioned above. Thomas Walkom writes :

But the Conservatives soon reverted to their old-time religion. If unemployment was high, the fault lay with the jobless. They either didn’t have the right skills or were too lazy to move to where the work was.

The answer was threefold. First, cut into employment insurance in order to give layabouts an incentive to move. Second, bring in temporary foreign workers to fill the alleged skills shortages. Third, subsidize employers so as to encourage training.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see exactly what Stevie Spiteful thought of programs like Employment Insurance, shall we?

“In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don’t feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don’t feel bad about it themselves, as long as they’re receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.”

Speech to a Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, June 1997

One has to wonder why they persist no matter how ridiculous and pathetic they sound? Trying to please their corporate lobbyists and buddies? However, as mentioned above, Bay Street and Canadian Chamber of Commerce — two factions that would usually sing Conservatives’ praises have already been quite helpful in skewering these myths.  The only reason I can come up with is that snow job the Harpercons are pulling on the masses, is nothing more than ideological in reasoning.

All I hope is that the Non-profit organizations such as La Passerelle or Executives Available here in Montreal are not buying into the Stevie Spiteful and his well healed corporate friends are selling.
So Jason Kenney, while you look for your next employment in Kiji and still preach the skills / labour shortage myths, the rest of us will go on living in the real world as best as we can under the circumstances. While we’re at it, it’s high time to continue debunking those right winged myths. They say that we progressives don’t live in the real world. I say it’s the right that doesn’t. The only problem is that they have lulled the masses into swallowing their kool-aid.

More recommended reading regarding debunking those myths below:

1 comment to Jason Kenney Gets His Job Data From Kijiji — Myths Regarding Labour & Skills Shortages Debunked

  • Ole Infidel

    Absolutely unbelievable, except for the fact that it’s Harper’s Canada coming up with this. As shameful as whenst they trotted out civil servants to pose as new immigrant Canadians being sworn in…

    I have long been amazed that any/all governments and in particular Harper’s Canadian government, trying to take responsibility in any way, shape or form, for job creation. It is one of the great falsehoods perpetrated by governments. I can only surmise that they keep on doing it, because the sheeple generally swallow the line…

    Cheers…Ole Infidel
    Spruce Grove, Alberta.