Well, the latest Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey numbers paint a rather bleak picture for Ontario with employment dropping by 34,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rising from 7.3 to 7.5 percent. However, Ontario’s employment picture is much more complicated than that and regional numbers suggest that some parts of Ontario – well the GTA (The Greater Toronto Area) – is enjoying a boom comparable to a western resource producing province.
The accompanying figure uses total employment numbers for the period 2000 to 2013 from two sources – provincial totals from Statistics Canada Table 282-00129 and regional totals for Ontario from 2013 Ontario Fiscal and Economic Statement. The percentage change in total employment is presented and Ontario shows growth in total employment of about 18 percent for this period compared to 20 percent for Canada as a whole. Ontario does as well as it does, when compared to most of the other provinces particularly as a result of its public sector job growth.
Over the period 2000 to 2012, public sector employment in Ontario grew 36 percent while private sector employment grew by 11 percent. While faster public sector job growth during this period characterized Canada in general, for the country as a whole, public sector employment only grew 27 percent while private sector employment grew by 16 percent.
What is even more interesting is the discovery that not all of Ontario is doing that badly when it comes to employment growth. Central Ontario and Eastern Ontario have employment growth comparable to Canada as a whole. The GTA is definitely booming and if it were its own province would rival Alberta. Meanwhile, Southwestern and Northern Ontario are the weakest links. They have been mired in recession for most of the 21st century as a result of manufacturing job losses. It should not be a surprise to note that the last provincial election saw the GTA go overwhelmingly Liberal with the opposition PCs and NDP taking seats primarily outside the GTA. For the GTA, things are quite good, so why rock the boat? Given the transportation infrastructure announcements that should be coming in next week’s budget, things should only get better.
July 12th Update: One other thing comes to mind by the way. According to Statistics Canada, "In Ontario, employment fell by 34,000 in June, mostly among youths aged 15 to 24". Ontario's minimum wage rose by 75 cents to 11$ an hour on June 1st. Given that youth employment in Canada fell by 44,000 in June it means most of the national youth employment drop came from Ontario. July is a slow news season. Will be interesting to see if this is picked up as evidence of the impact of the increase in minimum wages.
July 13th Update: Well, Jim Sentance raised a good point about putting the growth in employment in perspective with growth in population or labour force. So, here is a figure that plots for Canada and its provinces the growth in employment, population as well as the difference (employment growth minus population growth) in the two growth rates. The plot is down below with a ranking according to the differential between employment and population growth. The Atlantic provinces do quite well - aside from New Brunswick. Alberta is not as stellar when population growth is taken into account. Meanwhile, Ontario is down at the bottom with Manitoba and New Brunswick.