Sunday, February 24, 2013

Job Market Bleak In Toronto, Canada's Largest City

The New Economy

If you have a full-time job, and you reside in Toronto, consider yourself fortunate; half the people don't, either working on contract or part-time, or not at all. So, says an article ("Half of Toronto-area workers have fallen into 'precarious employment': study"; Saturday, February 23, 2013), by Susan McIsaac and Charlotte Yates, in the Globe & Mail: Such is a telling indicator of how poor things are in Canada's largest city:
Research released Saturday by McMaster University and United Way Toronto provides new insights into just how much the labour market in Southern Ontario has changed. Barely half of people working in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas have permanent, full-time jobs that provide benefits and stability.
Everyone else is working in situations that are part-time, vulnerable or insecure in some way. This includes a growing number of temporary, contract and on-call positions. Jobs without benefits. Jobs with uncertain futures. This significant rise in precarious employment is a serious threat – not only to the collective prosperity of the region, but also to the social fabric of communities.
Beneath this finding is another surprise: precarious employment is hurting everyone. It’s found across all demographic groups, in every sector and across income levels that were previously immune. Having a middle-class income can now come with increased employment insecurity.
It is now common for many workers to piece together year-round, full-time hours by working multiple jobs. In addition, working conditions are more uncertain, as existing labour laws have not kept up with changing realities. Union membership is on the decline. Doors to opportunity are limited as opportunities for job training and development decline.
The news is not good, and is unlikely to get better soon, chiefly because of the way businesses operate, primarily as a vehicle to enrich senior executives, focused more on share prices and executive compensation than on customer service and employee retention and satisfaction. Job security has become a thing of the past, and even the middle-class, a shrinking cohort, are feeling the effects of the "New Economy," an economic idea favouring Big Business.

The chief question not often asked by the media and public policy makers is what happened to the economic idea of the 1970s called "full employment," that anyone who wants to work full-time can find a suitable job? Depending on the economist and the model that he uses, this equates to an unemployment rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent.

No industrialized nation approaches the bottom figure of 5 percent and it is doubtful that this will take place soon, if ever, unless companies make significant changes to the way they operate. For now, millions of individuals are living quietly desperate lives, often depressed and humiliated, wishing they could have a job but can't find one.

You can read the rest of the article at [Globe & Mail]