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January 2003     Vol. 4, no. 1

Productivity growth and prosperity

The improvement of the labour market situation during the late 1990s was a major factor in boosting average real incomes for Canadians. The 1990s presented the longest period of continuous positive growth in multifactor productivity during the last 20 years.


Construction Union Wage Rate Index

The Construction Union Wage Rate Index for Canada remained unchanged in November from the revised October level of 124.6 (1992=100). The composite index increased 2.3% from the revised November 2001 index.


Employment Insurance

The estimated number of Canadians (adjusted for seasonality) receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in October was up 0.6% from September to 556,600. Ontario was the only province or territory to record a decrease (-1.4%). The largest increases were in Prince Edward Island (+5.2%), Yukon (+5.2%) and Alberta (+4.9%). Quebec showed a slight monthly rise of 0.4%, just below the national average.


Employer pension plans

Trusteed pension funds reported expenditures of $11.2 billion and revenues of $10.6 billion, resulting in a negative cash flow of $668 million as of June 30, 2002. Losses on the sale of stocks were responsible for the high expenditures. When stock prices are lower than their original purchase price, selling off will result in losses, but the objective is to rebalance the portfolio to take advantage of economic sectors which will do better in the future.


Consumer Price Index

From November 2001 to November 2002, Canadian consumers experienced a 4.3% increase in the prices of the basket of goods and services included in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This increase is considerably larger than October's 3.2% rise. However, as in October, the strong increase in the 12-month change is largely attributable to a base effect.


Labour Force Survey

The strong upward trend in employment that began at the start of 2002 continued in December, with an increase of 58,000 jobs, mostly full-time. Over the year, employment rose 3.7%, the highest annual growth rate since 1987. Despite the job growth in December, the unemployment rate for the month remained unchanged at 7.5%, as a large number of persons entered the labour force.The proportion of the working-age population holding a job (employment rate) rose to an all-time high of 62.4% in December. Meanwhile, the labour force participation rate hit 67.5%, equalled only once before in January 1990.


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