Gary Goodyear: “Since the depths of the Great Recession, more than 1.2 million net new jobs have been created—overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying and in the private sector.”
By: Hugh Verrier on
Gary Goodyear, Conservative MP for Cambridge, in a speech on April 24, 2015
Canada gained a net 1,220,800 jobs from June 2009 to April 2015. Of these, approximately 91 per cent were full-time, and 81 per cent were in the private sector.FactsCan Score: True
The “1.2 million new jobs” claim has made rounds since Statistics Canada released its January 2015 Labour Force Survey. It appeared on the Conservative Party website and in parliamentary debates by Joe Oliver, the finance minister, and James Moore, the industry minister.
In an April 24 speech, Gary Goodyear, the minister of state for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, made the claim again: “Since the depths of the Great Recession, more than 1.2 million net new jobs have been created—overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying and in the private sector.”
In this statement are two verifiable claims. First, that more than 1.2 million jobs have been net gained since “the depths” of the recession. Second, that these jobs have been “overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying jobs and in the private sector.”
We return to the question of who can take responsibility for the job creation below. As for the verifiable statements, how do they hold up against the available data?
According to Statistics Canada, the first claim is true. There were 17,894,900 jobs as of April 2015.* This represents an increase of 1,220,800 jobs from the lowest level of employment during the recession, which was 16,674,100 jobs in June 2009.
What about the second claim? Does this net gain consist mainly of full-time, well-paying jobs in the private sector? It is difficult to verify the creation of well-paying jobs (after all, what constitutes good pay?). But it is possible to test whether the jobs are full-time and in the private sector, using Statistics Canada data.
According to the national data, 1,108,600 of the jobs gained were full-time, while 112,300 were part-time. Of the total number, 989,800 were gained in the private sector, 216,400 in the public sector, and 14,600 come from self-employment. That makes 91 per cent of the new jobs full-time, and 81 per cent in the private sector. This is consistent with the claim that these jobs are “overwhelmingly” full-time and in the private sector.
It is worth pointing out that Goodyear’s baseline is the lowest level of employment recorded during the recession. If he used the pre-recession high, or 17,100,600 jobs in October 2008, then he would have found a net growth of only 794,300 jobs. Of these, 77 per cent were full-time, and 72 per cent were in the private sector. This does not undermine Goodyear’s claim, because he specifies that the count begins at “the depths” of the recession. Yet it’s easy to see how these numbers might be taken out of context. Net job growth is highly contingent on the time frame selected.
One criticism of the “1.2 million net new jobs” claim is that an unknown number of those jobs went to temporary workers. Jim Stanford, a Unifor economist, pointed out to The Tyee that the Labour Force Survey is not designed to properly track the net increase in temporary foreign workers. Statistics Canada confirmed this in the same article, noting that those who are not citizens or permanent residents are lumped in an “other” category that may include temporary foreign workers among others like students.
A second criticism is that the government cannot take credit for creating those 1.2 million jobs – another objection that’s difficult to verify. In a summary of recent research on employment, the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, a non-profit forum dedicated to private sector development, suggested job creation is linked to a wide array of public and private factors. Only some of these are directly affected by government policy. Based on this research, it is likely the government was at most partially responsible for the net jobs gain. But it’s difficult to assess the exact extent of government agency in job creation.
A third criticism is that it is misleading to use job numbers to imply that the Canadian economy is strong or that labour markets are tight. On its own, the absolute level of employment provides an incomplete picture of labour market health. As the San Francisco Federal Reserve summed up, of all the indicators, “none is reliable enough to be used mechanically as a sole target or guide to policy.”
The Canadian employment-to-population ratio illustrates the limits of employment as a labour statistic. Consider the fact that employment has grown at approximately the same rate as the working-age Canadian population since June 2009, according to Statistics Canada. As a result, the employment-to-population ratio has remained constant. Despite the 1.2 million net increase in jobs, the current ratio is almost exactly the same as it was in the worst period of the recession, hovering around 61 per cent. It has not yet recovered to its pre-recession high of nearly 64 per cent.
These facts are not a comment on the health of the economy. Rather, they speak to the point that, on its own, net job growth does not paint a complete picture.
So the 1.2 million net jobs claim is technically true within the specified time frame. But we note its use is potentially misleading without other, more meaningful statistics.
*All estimates rounded to the nearest 100 and seasonally adjusted.