According to the employment numbers just released, the United States is doing quite well with the preliminary Bureau of Labour Statistics numbers pointing to the addition of 252,000 jobs in December and an unemployment rate now at 5.6 percent. Meanwhile, Canada exhibited a much weaker performance with Statistics Canada reporting that Canada lost 4,300 jobs in December and had an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. What is also interesting in this differential performance is what is happening in manufacturing – both recently and with some reference to the past.
The accompanying figure presents the growth rates of manufacturing employment for Canada and the United States using data from Statistics Canada and the Bureau of Labour Statistics for the period 1991 to 2013 (See below for Data references). This longer-term perspective is quite interesting. Over the entire 1991 to 2013 period, total manufacturing employment in both countries shrank with the average annual growth rate being -0.7 percent on Canada and -1.5 percent in the United States.
America’s manufacturing decline predates the Canadian one. The 1990s saw fairly robust growth in Canadian manufacturing employment while American manufacturing employment shrank. Canadian manufacturing employment also starts to show declines after 2002 in particular. Manufacturing employment is hit hard in both countries between 2005 and 2009. What is interesting however is that starting in 2010, employment growth in US manufacturing has been superior to that of Canada. Between 2010 and 2013, manufacturing employment in Canada declined at an annual average rate of -0.7 percent while that of the United States grew at 1.2 percent. In 2013 alone, manufacturing employment in Canada fell over 2.0 percent while that of the United States rose by almost 1 percent.
I guess my question is since 2009, why is American manufacturing adding jobs in a more sustained fashion while Canadian manufacturing has exhibited a weaker performance? Is it due primarily to fluctuations in our dollar – given the importance of the American market to our manufacturing – or are there other important factors?
Canada-Statistics Canada, v2523012 Canada; Total employed, all classes of workers; Manufacturing
United States-Bureau of Labour Statistics-December Total. Series IdCES3000000001