Brad DeLong says that the NSA employment ratio is his favourite graph:
[I]t shows, in one picture, the seasonal cycle, the business cycle, and the long-term trend in American labor force participation coming from demography and feminism.
The same plot of Canadian data - with the US numbers as a benchmark - tells that story and more:
- The amplitude of the Canadian seasonal cycle is twice that of the US. Small wonder that the popular X11 seasonal filter was developed by Statistics Canada.
- Technical change is steadily reducing the importance of the seasonal cycle: the 4-point swings of the 1970s have been cut in half. For example, construction is now a year-round activity here in Quebec City.
- The slowdown of the early 1990's was exceptionally severe, and we've only just recovered. This no doubt goes some way towards explaining why the mid-90's had such turbulent politics: it was no time to be running for re-election.