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February 2005
Vol. 6, no. 2

Perspectives on Labour and Income

News from The Daily

Income inequality from an international perspective
Canada largely avoided the rise in income inequality evident in the United States and the United Kingdom throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. However, this began to change during the 1990s when gains associated with economic expansion in Canada went mainly to higher income families.

Labour Force Survey
Employment was little changed for the third consecutive month and the unemployment rate held steady in January at 7.0%. The number of hours worked fell 0.7%, however, it was up 1.4% from a year ago, the same growth rate as employment.

Are good jobs disappearing in Canada?
Little evidence suggests that well-paid jobs have been disappearing in Canada in recent years or since the early 1980s. In 2004, 11% of all employees aged 25 to 64 were employed in jobs that paid $30 or more per hour. This was higher than the rate of 9% observed in 1981. However, newly hired employees (those with two years of seniority or less) have lost ground relative to their counterparts with greater seniority during that period

Training and technology
Participation in the knowledge economy, via workplace investments in training, is widespread. The set of technology skills that individual workplaces develop is a major factor in determining the incidence and intensity of training.

Canadian and U.S. productivity: Measurement issues
The estimate of the relative Canada/U.S. productivity level is sensitive to the assumptions one makes. If one assumes export and import prices are translated directly from one currency to another by the exchange rate (the law of one price), the overall Canadian economy was only about 94% as productive as that of the United States in 1999. If one allows for a 10 percentage-point deviation from this assumption, then the productivity gap disappears.

Productivity and the output gap between Canada and the U.S.
Canada's economic output per person is lower than that in the United States but it is not primarily because Canadians are less productive. Between 1994 and 2002, Canadian GDP per capita averaged only 83% that of GDP per capita in the United States. This gap in output comes primarily from lower levels of labour input, that is, Canadians work fewer hours per job, and are less likely to have a job.

Tourism employment in rural Canada
Tourism accounted for about 3% of total employment in Canada's predominantly rural regions in 2003, about the same as it did for the economy as a whole. Rural regions of the Atlantic provinces had the largest growth in tourism employment between 1996 and 2003.

Rural-urban income gap
Average incomes in Canada's rural population increased in every province during the past two decades, in many cases at a faster rate than average incomes in urban areas.

Employer pension plans (trusteed pension funds)
Trusteed pension funds continued their long climb back from the financial low point set in March 2003. Over the 15 months to June 2004, fund assets increased nearly 24%, from $531.2 billion to $656.1 billion, a new record high.

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