May 17, 2021 - No. 45

April Labour Force Survey

April Job Losses Total 207,000

Reflection on April Labour Force Survey - K.C. Adams
Long-term Unemployment
Labour Force Growth Lags Behind Population Growth
Labour Underutilization Rate

April Labour Force Survey

April Job Losses Total 207,000

Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey for April 2021 reveals that the number of available jobs countrywide fell by 207,000 (-1.1%) compared with the previous month. Employment declined in both full-time (-129,000; -0.8%) and part-time (-78,000; -2.3%) work. The number of employed people working less than half their usual hours increased by 288,000 to a total of over one million workers. The number of people searching for work increased +67,000 (+4.9%) while those on temporary layoff was up +57,000 (+37.6%). This pushed the official unemployment rate higher by 0.6 percentage points to 8.1 per cent, a total of 1,640,300 workers declared "officially" unemployed.

The official unemployment rate compares the number of Canadians working with the total number in what Statcan views as the "active" workforce. The "active" workforce is the sum of workers working and those not working but who looked for a job at some time during the month. Canadians aged 15 or older who are not working and did not look for a job during the month for whatever reason, such as caring for their children, are not considered part of the official workforce.

Statcan writes, "The number of Canadians who wanted a job but did not look for one rose by 54,000 (+11.0%) in April. As a result, the adjusted unemployment rate -- which includes this group along with those who meet the definition of unemployed -- was 10.5 per cent, up 0.8 percentage points from the previous month."

Hours worked in April were down 3.9 per cent compared with the February 2020 pre-pandemic levels. The totality of the situation continues the substantial loss of new value workers could produce and make available to themselves, the people, economy and society, if they were fully mobilized and producing.

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Reflection on April Labour Force Survey

Starkly missing in the Statcan April Labour Force Survey is any analysis of why these problems in the economy just keeping repeating themselves without solution. The only variation in the reporting is a number of percentage points here and there. Month after month the Labour Force Survey churns out much the same material differing only in the severity of the problems at hand such as those related to the pandemic and recurring economic crises.

The ruling elite of the oligarchy who exercise control over the economy are not just incapable of solving problems but relish the difficulties they cause the working people. The problems, such as unemployment, are the very things that weaken the working class and set the stage for making maximum profit.

The ruling elite are in control of the economy yet refuse to take the problems seriously because to do so is not in their private interests. The problems generally emerge from the contradiction between the socialized nature of the modern productive forces and the control and ownership of those productive forces by competing oligarchs and their cartels. Why would the ruling elite take any serious measures regarding those problems when that would lead to a weakening of their control and making of maximum profit, and a strengthening of the working class and its struggle for its rights and claims?

The people who do the work and suffer the problems have to gain control of the economy and all those issues that affect their lives. They have an interest in solving problems because solutions would serve their interests and the advance of the economy and society generally. Solving problems would open a path towards resolution of the basic contradiction between socialized production and its disparate competing private control.

Solutions to the problems are found in the organized working class fighting for its rights and claims and forcing solutions on the ruling oligarchy and wresting control of the economy from its hands.

Whose Economy? The Working People's Economy!
Who Decides? The People Who Do the Work Must Decide!
Who Controls? We the Working People!

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Long-term Unemployment

The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more increased to 486,000 (+21,000; +4.6%) in April. Statcan says this reflects "the continued flow into this category of those who lost jobs in the spring, summer and fall of 2020 and who have remained unemployed since. Among the long-term unemployed, 312,000 had been without work for 52 weeks or more as of April."

Statcan makes a really pathetic comment reflecting the inability, or rather the unwillingness, of the ruling elite to solve the problems in the economy. It writes, "Long-term unemployment is a key indicator of mismatches between labour supply and demand, as workers who lose jobs in some occupations may face difficulties finding work in the same or related fields. Compared with February 2020, the number of long-term unemployed was up by 171.3 per cent in April."

The "mismatch between labour supply and demand" is a factor that keeps the working class divided and weak as it competes for the available work. The "mismatch" strengthens the hand of employers in their class struggle to refuse wage increases and better working conditions or to resolve issues related to workers' health and safety, which have become a flashpoint during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statcan continues, "For individuals, being unemployed for extended periods may be associated with a range of adverse effects, including health impacts, difficulty returning to work and delays in acquiring work experience. From February 2020 to April 2021, long-term unemployment increased in all major demographic groups, including core-aged men (+116,000; +223.2%) and women (+79,000; +176.6%). Among those aged 55 and older, long-term unemployment increased by 33,000 (+102.8%) for men and by 40,000 (+195.6%) for women.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in larger increases in long-term unemployment among young men (+32,000; +185.3%) than young women (+8,000; +61.4%). This reflects the fact that labour force participation for male youth is similar to its pre-COVID level (64.3% in February 2020, compared with 63.6% in April 2021), with young men generally responding to employment losses by looking for new work. In contrast, labour force participation among female youth declined by 3.9 percentage points from February 2020 (65.3%) to April 2021 (61.4%), with a net drop of 91,000 in the number of young women participating in the labour market."

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Labour Force Growth Lags
Behind Population Growth

Canada's population of those aged 15 and older was 302,000 (+1.0%) higher in April 2021 than in February 2020. Statcan writes, "To maintain a constant employment rate -- defined as employment as a proportion of the population aged 15 and older -- employment must grow at the same rate as population. From February 2020 to April 2021, employment growth of 183,000 would have been necessary to maintain a steady employment rate. Instead, employment declined by 503,000 over this period and the employment rate dropped 2.2 percentage points, from 61.8 per cent to 59.6 per cent.

"Similarly, the size of the labour force -- that is, the total number of people who are either employed or meet the definition of unemployed -- would have had to increase by 194,000 from February 2020 to April 2021 to keep pace with population growth. In fact, the size of the labour force was essentially unchanged over the period and the participation rate fell from 65.5 per cent to 64.9 per cent."

Why should this happen? For the working class, small and medium-sized enterprises and the country as a whole, the crisis has been a disaster. In contrast, the ruling oligarchs have turned the crisis into maximum profits with billionaires substantially increasing their control of social wealth and the economy.

Statistics Canada makes all this sound so uncontrollable and beyond the capacity of mere mortals to deal with or even comprehend why this is happening. This is explained by the fact that for the ruling oligarchs to bring the modern economy under conscious human direction in conformity with its socialized nature and to solve persistent problems is not possible or in their interest. Understanding and conscious control of the whole and its parts would mean introducing scientific planning, economic theory and concrete analysis of concrete problems into the economy, and a new aim to serve the people in sharp contradiction with the self-serving aim, anarchy and irrationality that suit the oligarchs fine in the sense that this allows them to retain their control and lifestyle.

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Labour Underutilization Rate

Statcan writes, "The labour underutilization rate, which captures the full range of people who are available and want to work rose 2.3 percentage points to 17 per cent in April."

Statcan defines the "labour underutilization rate" as a percentage of the sum of workers who were unemployed and looked for a job during the month plus those not in the labour force but who wanted a job but did not look for one plus those who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours compared with the total number of Canadians aged 15 and older. With this stream of words one could easily doze off sighing, "Yada, yada, blah, blah zzzzzz."

Why in the world should Canadians accept any "labour underutilization" when that directly means less value produced and available to solve social and other problems and meet the needs of the people and society, in particular at this time to tackle the health emergency?

Statcan continues, "All components of the labour underutilization rate remained higher than in February 2020, and included people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours (+534,000; +65.9%); job searchers (+391,000; +37.6%); those on temporary layoff or with arrangements to start a job in the near future (+103,000 +98.1%); and those who wanted a job but did not look for one (+153,000; +38.5%)."

The number of Canadians working from home who worked at least half of their usual hours grew by 100,000 to 5.1 million. This number includes 3.1 million who usually work at locations other than their home.

In April alone, employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 101,000 (-4.2%), with losses concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia. Employment among people aged 25 to 54 fell 48,000 (-0.4%), with the decline primarily in full-time work for women. Employment among people aged 55 and older fell 58,000 (-1.4%), with losses primarily in full-time work (-45,000; -1.4%).

The fall in employment since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020 has been 503,000 jobs.

Statcan writes, "Hours worked among the self-employed fell 5.6 per cent in April 2021 and were 12.8 per cent lower than in February 2020. Proportionally, self-employment remained further from pre-pandemic levels than both private sector and public sector employment, down 5.1 per cent (-147,000) compared with February 2020.

"Recent data on business openings and closures reveal that, as of January 2021, there were 20,000 fewer active businesses in Canada compared with a year earlier."

(Labour Force Survey April, 2021 available here: The Daily -- Labour Force Survey, April 2021)

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