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April 2003     Vol. 4, no. 4

Employment Insurance

The estimated number of Canadians (adjusted for seasonality) receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in January was down 3.3% from December to 529,700. All provinces and territories registered monthly declines. The largest percentage decreases were recorded in Ontario (-7.1%), Yukon (-5.6%), British Columbia (-5.5%) and New Brunswick (-5.4%).

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Productivity growth from new plants of multinationals

The competitive process that brings new firms into an industry and forces old firms out makes a significant contribution to productivity growth. Most of this has come from new plants created by multinational enterprises in the 1990s, according to a new report that examines plant turnover and productivity growth in Canadian manufacturing.

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Employment, earnings and hours

In January, average weekly earnings for all employees were estimated at $687.44, virtually unchanged from December ($687.98). This earnings level represents a 1.8% increase from January 2002. Education (+6.9%), finance and insurance (+4.4%), public administration (+3.6%) and manufacturing (+3.0%) were among the sectors showing the strongest year-over-year growth.

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Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

The second release from the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), Disability supports in Canada, is now available. Data focus on the use of and need for disability supports for individuals aged 15 and over. Topics covered include assistive aids or devices, help with everyday activities, specialized features in the home, local and long distance transportation, and tax credits.

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Life after welfare

Family incomes rose for the majority of people who stopped receiving welfare benefits during the 1990s. However, for about one out of every three individuals, family income declined significantly, according to a first-ever national study of the economic outcome for people who left welfare rolls.

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Help-wanted Index

The Help-wanted Index (1996=100) rose in March to 112.7, up 1.2% from February and the first rise in seven months. The index increased in four provinces: Prince Edward Island (+0.9%), Quebec (+0.6%), Alberta (+0.6%) and Ontario (+0.3%).

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Labour Force Survey

Employment edged up 14,000 in March and the unemployment rate dipped 0.1 percentage points to 7.3%. Although the employment rate (62.5%) and the participation rate (67.5%) remained at all-time highs, the pace of employment growth has slowed. The modest increase in employment in March brings gains for the first three months of the year to 67,000, the smallest quarterly increase since the end of 2001.

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Sources of the Canada-United States productivity growth gap

Much of the recent debate in Canada over productivity has focussed on the productivity growth gap between Canada and the United States. However, fewer efforts have been directed to tracing and quantifying its sources. The research paper A frontier approach to Canada-United States multifactor productivity performance, which attempts to fill the void, explores the sources of the gap between the two nations.

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Specialization and trade

Regional manufacturing employment volatility in Canada: The effects of specialization and trade measures the stability of manufacturing employment growth from 1976 to 1997 across a broad spectrum of regions, from small one-industry towns to the large, diverse manufacturing economies found in large cities.

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