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
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
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.
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.
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!
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."
"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."
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
the oligarchs fine in the sense that this allows them to retain their
control and lifestyle.
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
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;
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
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."
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