Why Canada’s job market isn’t as ‘wholesome’ because it appears

Why Canada’s job market isn’t as ‘wholesome’ because it appears

The Financial institution of Canada ought to be cautious about placing an excessive amount of emphasis on the unemployment charge, says CIBC

Article content

Good morning,

Advertisement 2

Article content material

Article content material

Everyone knows the pandemic modified how we work, however what we would not know is how the harm unleashed by COVID-19 continues to have an effect on our labour market.

December’s blockbuster job numbers in Canada got here as a shock. The acquire of 104,000 jobs beat economists’ expectations by a mile and elevated hypothesis that the Financial institution of Canada must hike its charge once more this month to additional cool the economic system and inflation. The unemployment charge fell to 5 per cent, one of many lowest readings on document.

However a more in-depth take a look at the main points reveals that not all is because it appears in Canada’s job market. Although employment is up greater than 3 per cent for the reason that starting of the pandemic, working hours are up just one.75 per cent, stated CIBC economists Andrew Grantham and Karyne Charbonneau in a current report.

Commercial 3

Article content material

“The Financial institution of Canada ought to be cautious about inserting an excessive amount of emphasis on the unemployment charge as a signpost of extra demand inside the economic system,” they stated.

“The ‘well being’ of the Canadian labour market within the coming 12 months can even be influenced by the evolution of COVID and different respiratory sicknesses that we’re at present dealing with.”

What has modified is that the hours that individuals truly work are effectively beneath pre-pandemic ranges due to greater ranges of absenteeism.

“Corporations are getting much less bang for his or her buck, or fewer hours truly labored per worker,” stated the economists.

Worker sick days elevated in 2022 as a result of COVID-19 continues to flow into and different sicknesses have re-emerged. The economists calculate that greater than 0.4 extra hours per worker have been misplaced within the fourth quarter of 2022 in comparison with the typical between 2017 and 2019.

Commercial 4

Article content material

On the identical time, employees are utilizing extra of their trip depart, although this has nonetheless not reached pre-pandemic norms.

“If trip time was not nonetheless operating beneath pre-pandemic norms, misplaced hours attributable to illness and household wants alone can be equal to requiring round 230,000 extra staff,” stated the economists.

Which means the precise provide of labour that the economic system is getting from a 5 per cent jobless charge is “noticeably much less” than it will have been earlier than 2020. Due to the misplaced hours, the economic system is at present getting labour provide equal to a 6 per cent jobless charge, pre-pandemic.

“If staff proceed to normalize their use of trip time, however time misplaced attributable to sickness or household points doesn’t enhance, then labour provide can be equal to a 6.2 per cent unemployment charge pre-pandemic,” stated the economists.

Commercial 5

Article content material

The shortfall in hours labored additionally helps clarify the nation’s excessive emptiness charges. The economists say their estimate of the hours misplaced due to sickness or household issues would have raised job vacancies by 60,000 — a couple of quarter of the surplus vacancies at present seen within the economic system in comparison with pre-pandemic.

Sectors the place the work can’t be finished at house, akin to training, manufacturing and building, have been hit the toughest by this shortfall.

Whereas training has at all times seen greater ranges of absenteeism due to sickness, that’s not been the case for manufacturing, building and mining.

The extra paid sick depart additionally raises wage prices. CIBC estimates that these prices have elevated by between 0.5 per cent and 0.9 per cent simply from time paid to staff who’re absent due to illness or household issues.

Commercial 6

Article content material

And when employers have to rent extra employees to cowl for many who are away, it additional tightens the labour market and will increase wage pressures.

If the well being state of affairs improves dramatically within the spring, the emptiness charge may fall rapidly and the unemployment charge may rise even when there is no such thing as a change in demand, stated the economists.

Nonetheless, there may be additionally the chance that “COVID may symbolize a structural shift inside the labour market,” they stated.

Chilly and flu seasons have traditionally had a major impression on labour every year, and now COVID has been added to that blend.

“The excellent news is that this could largely symbolize a one-time raise to labour prices relative to the pre-pandemic regular,” stated the economists. “So long as the well being state of affairs doesn’t develop into an excellent larger constraint to produce, we should always have the ability to see an easing of inflationary pressures with out a big improve within the unemployment charge.”

Commercial 7

Article content material


Was this article forwarded to you? Enroll right here to get it delivered to your inbox.

One factor that has caught the eye of economists and merchants alike currently is the rise in copper costs.

Copper ended the week on Jan. 13 with a 7 per cent acquire at US$9,190.50 a tonne, after hitting a seven-month excessive the day earlier than of US$9,240.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter stated a few of restoration is because of a weaker U.S. greenback. His chart reveals copper’s current ascent in each U.S. {dollars} and euros and you may see the restoration within the latter is considerably much less spectacular.

Nonetheless, the massive driver within the upswing is the reopening of China, the world’s largest client of metals.

Commercial 8

Article content material

WisdomTree analyst Nitesh Shah instructed Reuters the prospect of accelerating Chinese language demand is pushing costs greater and “above $10,000 (a tonne) ought to be simply in attain.”

That additionally may very well be excellent news for the worldwide economic system. The metallic, often called “Physician Copper,” is seen as an unofficial indicator of the well being of the economic system as a result of it’s a uncooked materials utilized in so many industries and merchandise.

“The current upswing in “the metallic with its PhD in Economics” places a greater mild on the worldwide progress outlook for this 12 months,” wrote Porter.


  • U.S. Markets are closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Financial institution of Canada Enterprise Outlook Survey and Survey of Shopper Expectations
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will go to a uncommon earths factor processing plant
  • Federal public servants can be required to work a minimum of two to a few days per week in workplace. To permit for a clean transition, the federal government will use a phased introduction by Jan. 16, with full implementation by March 31, 2023
  • Right this moment’s Information: Canada building funding, manufacturing gross sales & orders, current house gross sales, MLS House Value Index

Commercial 9

Article content material



As rates of interest go up, it’s time to reassess how a lot debt your family can carry. Funding adviser Rita Li has questions you need to ask your self when allocating cash to debt repayments, financial savings and investments. Discover out extra


Right this moment’s Posthaste was written by Pamela Heaven, @pamheaven, with extra reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a narrative concept, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this article? E mail us at [email protected], or hit reply to ship us a observe.


Postmedia is dedicated to sustaining a energetic however civil discussion board for dialogue and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Feedback might take as much as an hour for moderation earlier than showing on the location. We ask you to maintain your feedback related and respectful. We’ve enabled e mail notifications—you’ll now obtain an e mail if you happen to obtain a reply to your remark, there may be an replace to a remark thread you comply with or if a person you comply with feedback. Go to our Group Tips for extra data and particulars on the right way to regulate your e mail settings.