U.S. and Canadian Labor Market Trends Compared

January 7, 2011

Employment Growth:  Canadian jobs increased 22.0K in December, the same percentage rise as a 167K increase of the U.S. workforce.  U.S. non-farm payroll employment climbed 103K, less than half of what market whisper numbers were speculating.  Canadian jobs advanced by 2.2% over the past twelve months, more than twice as fast as the 0.9% increase of U.S. jobs.  Between December 2008 and December 2009, jobs had contracted by 3.5% in the United States and 1.9% in Canada.  On average U.S. employment advanced 49K per month in the second half of 2010, down from a pace of 139K per month in the first half.  U.S. December-over-December employment changes were 0.8% in 2007 and minus 2.6% in 2008 prior to the 3.5% drop in 2009 and 0.9% rise in 2010.  America’s last severe recession saw jobs on a December-over-December basis recover 3.9% in 1983 and 4.2% in 1984 after a sequence of +0.3% in 1980, minus 0.1% in 1981 and minus 2.3% in 1982.

Factory jobs:  Canadian manufacturing employment shot up 65.7K in December, the greatest monthly advance in at least 35 years.  That increase left factory jobs 31K or 1.8% above the level at the end of 2009.  A 10K advance in U.S. factory jobs last month was the first increase of any sort in five months and left such 0.8% above its year-earlier level.

Unemployment:  Canada had a jobless rate of 7.6% in December, down from a peak of 8.7% in August 2009 and 8.4% at the end of 2009.  The jobless rate in Canada had been at 6.0% at the onset of the world financial crisis in August 2007.  U.S. unemployment remains 1.8 percentage points greater than in Canada despite a drop to 9.4% from 9.8% in November.  Some benchmarks for the U.S. jobless rate are 4.6% when the financial crisis began, a peak of 10.1% in October 2009 and 9.9% in December 2009.  The broadest measure of U.S. unemployment, including part-timers who want full-time work, was 16.7% last month versus 17.1% a year earlier.  Many baby boomers have given up looking and switched to being collectors of social security rather than unemployment insurance.

Hourly wage earnings:  The on-year rate of increase in Canadian labor costs was 2.4% last month, up from 2.2% in November and 2.1% in October but the same increase that was posted between December 2008 and December 2009.  In the United States, hourly earnings growth slowed to 1.8% in the year to December 2010 from 2.1% on year in November and 2.2% in December 2009.

Copyright 2011 Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.



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