I’m not picking on Mr. Hudak here. We’re going to get a lot of promises from the others before June 12. But the other party leaders may learn from the Tories that they should stay away from a catch-phrase with a number they can’t deliver.
(By the way, when it all gets going, I’ll be the first to know. I signed up via the Internet to find about the Million Jobs Plan, and, after asking me to “like Tim on Facebook,” make a donation and volunteer, I got from the Tories in my inbox: “It's time to create a million new jobs in Ontario, make energy more affordable, increase take-home pay and fix our economy. You will be the first to know when the Million Jobs Plan launches.”)
- Adrian Morrow: Hudak vows to cut 100,000 public sector jobs if Tories win election
- Bill Curry: Ontario Tory leader Hudak promises ‘laser-like’ focus on job creation
- Adrian Morrow: Ontario Tories propose corporate tax cut, freezing civil servants’ pay
- David Parkinson in ROB Insight (for subscribers): Wynne, Hudak fiddle while Ontario’s deficit burns
- Campbell Clark in Politics Insider (for subscribers): Ontario Tories’ million-job pledge is an act of hubris from Hudak
If you think you’re not doing that much better than inflation when it comes to your pay, it’s because you’re not.
And at some point, that could become an issue for the economy.
Statistics Canada’s jobs report today shows that pay gains among Canadian workers slowed last month to an annual rate of 1.8 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent in March.
I’m comparing two different months here, but the annual pace of inflation in March was 1.5 per cent, which puts April’s wage growth only slightly ahead.
Royal Bank of Canada’s Ian Pollick says a more important measure is one that looks just at permanent workers. And in that case, the slowdown is even more extreme, with the annual pace of pay gains slowing to 1.7 per cent in April from 2.4 per cent a month earlier.
Mr. Pollick, senior fixed income strategist at RBC Dominion Securities, notes that one month does not a trend make, but it could raise concerns over consumer spending, particularly given that debt levels among Canadian households are so high.
“Household income gains will also likely be kept in check by continued softness in wages,” added deputy chief economist Derek Burleton of Toronto-Dominion Bank.
So it's worth remembering now all those caveats we mentioned last month when The New York Times reported that Canada's middle class is among the world's wealthiest: It's not that we're doing that well. It's that others, notably the Americans, are faring far worse.
Wage growth in Canada has been tepid, to say the least. Over the course of last year, average weekly earnings in Canada rose just 1.8 per cent.
There's another reading to keep in mind, too, one that measures total hours worked, which tumbled 1.9 per cent from March, marking the fastest decline in more than 10 years.
But, as chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns noted, that takes into account the Good Friday holiday, which may have distorted the entire report.
Canada loses jobs
That Statistics Canada report showed that the labour market continued its see-saw ways last months, with a loss of almost 29,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate held at 6.9 per cent, however, amid a hefty drop in the number of people looking for work, The Globe and Mail’s Tavia Grant reports.
Notably, the participation rate slipped to just above 66 per cent, its lowest since late 2001, according to Statistics Canada data released today.
The country’s jobs market has been up and down for some time now, but the bottom line, according to the federal agency, is that there has been little in the way of gains since last summer.
“The loss in jobs came despite a rise in self-employment, and was pretty broad based between goods and service sectors,” said Nick Exarhos of CIBC World Markets.
“The six-month average in job gains now stands at a paltry 3,000, well below what we would expect given recent GDP growth.”