It has been the conventional wisdom in Canada that we have weathered the Great Recession and the financial crisis much better than the rest of the world. Ever wonder why when government comparisons are made about how Canada fared during the Great Recession, the comparison made is inevitably with the G-7 countries?
The average change in total civilian employment over this period was – 0.31 percent and the change in employment ranged from a high of 9 percent (for Turkey) to a low of -12 percent (for Ireland). Interestingly enough, despite the Great Recession, many countries saw an employment increase during this period. Of these 30 countries, 15 of them saw a decline in employment over the 2007-2010 period while 15 saw an increase – Canada included. The average employment increase of those countries with positive growth was 3 percent while the average decline in the negative growth countries was -3.6 percent. The top five performers were Turkey, Australia, Luxembourg, Poland and Mexico while the bottom five countries were Ireland, Spain, Iceland, the United States and Portugal. Where was Canada? Well, Canada came in at 11th spot at 1.4 percent employment growth – just behind the Netherlands and ahead of Germany.
In terms of employment growth, Canada has done best during the current recession if you compare it to the countries that experienced an employment decline. The G-7 was particularly hard hit so if you compare Canada to the G-7 – well, our performance has been stellar as Canada is one of two G-7 countries that saw employment growth during this period. If you compare Canada only to the countries on this OECD list that saw employment growth, then Canada is in the bottom third of those countries having been surpassed by Australia, Norway, Austria, Korea and the Netherlands as well as Turkey and Mexico. I suppose we have done well all things considered but many other countries have done even better. Comparison groups are important. In economic policy as in fine dining, presentation is everything.