A new TD Economics report throws “cold water” on predictions
TD economics explores mismatch of
perception and reality in new job report
to the extent that one might have thought,” added Sonya Gulati,
senior economist at TD Bank Group and co-author of the report.
Another perception is the post-secondary system is graduating
too many Canadians in areas that are not in demand, thus
leaving a large pool of underemployed people. OECD over-
qualification and under-qualification rates for Canada relative to
other countries provide some supporting evidence. Still, the job
market outcomes of recent graduates, including those with liberal
arts degrees, are likely better than many Canadians perceive.
Other labour market trends identified in the report include:
■■ A degree of labour market “polarization” – which refers to rapidly-
growing demand for high and low-skilled employment at the
expense of a relative decline in medium-skilled jobs – has taken
place in Canada, but not nearly to the same extent as observed
in the U.S.
■■ Older workers are punching well beyond their weight in terms
of their contribution to net new employment. At the other end
of the age spectrum, the challenges of youth in the job market
have intensified since the onset of recession.
■■ Temporary jobs – especially contract positions – have been on
a gradual rise and now make up one in seven positions. This
upward trend has fuelled concerns surrounding the quality of
jobs being created.
“Despite Canada’s solid track record in creating jobs, there are
inherent vulnerabilities in the labour market and skills development
more specifically that are holding back the economy’s potential,”
concluded Burleton. “Bold and complementary action across
governments, employers, employees and educators is needed to
ensure that living standards continue to grow.”
Photo by Mediaphotos / Photos.com
of large and persistent job shortages in Canada,
as well as views that today’s youth will be a “lost generation.”
The Jobs in Canada report can be found at
“Perceptions can take on a life of their own without hard underlying
facts supporting them,” said Derek Burleton, a Deputy Chief
Economist at TD Bank Group, and co-author of the report. “Still,
there is room for improvement in Canada’s labour market, and
we were pleased with the federal government’s focus on skills and
training development. Our view is a more concerted effort among
all levels of government as well as employers, employees and educators
will be needed to provide Canada with a world-leading
workforce for the 21st century.”
To test for labour shortages and mismatch, TD economists
compiled data on unemployment rates, wage rates and vacancy
rates (a measure of unmet labour demand) for around 140 occupations.
Results uncovered some surprises. For instance, occupations
widely thought to be in shortage – such as trades, engineers
and health care workers – have recorded considerably lower unemployment
rates than average, but vacancy rates that are only
As one would expect, vacancy rates have risen more significantly
in the Prairies, particularly in those occupations perceived to be
in shortage. Additionally, employers in Alberta and Saskatchewan
were having difficulties filling occupations where an ample labour
supply is widely perceived.
“However, the story on the wage data remains curious, as wage
gains out west, across the occupation spectrum, have not increased
Job market outcomes of recent graduates, including those with liberal arts degrees, are likely better than many Canadians
perceive, a TD Economics report says.
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ JANUARY 2014 ❚ 11