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The harder side of Sears: The grim jobs numbers behind its collapse in Canada

The harder side of Sears: The grim jobs numbers behind its collapse in Canada

Briefing highlights

  • The grim Sears jobs numbers
  • Markets at a glance
  • U.S. tables NAFTA auto demands
  • Trump to act on Iran nuclear deal
  • Bank of America profit rises
  • Wells Fargo revenue misses Street

The Sears effect

Let's call it the harder side of Sears.

The collapse of Sears Canada Inc. is expected to kill about 0.6 per cent of the jobs across the retail industry. Looked at another way, Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter calculates, that's "almost a year's worth of typical gains in the sector."

As The Globe and Mail's Marina Strauss reports, the iconic retailer is liquidating, throwing more than 12,000 people out of work.

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Mr. Porter looked at the numbers, as well as the different measures used by Statistics Canada, to determine the impact of those 12,000 jobs on the labour market.

"To put that large number in perspective, an average monthly gain in overall employment has been about 16,000 over the past five years," Mr. Porter said.

"Overall retail employment is hovering around the two million mark, so this shutdown would affect 0.6 per cent of the sector's jobs," he added.

"Unlike the U.S. situation - where retail payrolls were falling even before the messy September jobs data - Canadian retail employment is still rising."

But look at the size of that hit against the backdrop of annual job creation across the industry.

Statistics Canada's establishment survey, as it's known, suggests an average annual increase of about 17,000 retail jobs in the past five years, Mr. Porter said, noting that the September numbers showed a solid jump from a year earlier.

Mr. Porter also cited the differences between the establishment survey and Statistics Canada's other employment report, the labour force survey.

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"The more volatile LFS says retail jobs have soared 5 per cent year over year, but this survey was much weaker in 2015," he added.

"Note, both surveys reported a slowdown that year, when Target shut its doors, costing more than 15,000 jobs."

Take a look, too, at this from The Globe and Mail's Matt Lundy on retail sector employment:

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Markets at a glance

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U.S. tables key demand

The U.S. government has put its demand that vehicles contain at least 85 per cent North American content and 50 per cent U.S. content on the table at negotiations on the North American free-trade agreement, auto industry sources say.

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The tougher requirements than the current deal are a key proposal as the Trump administration seeks to reduce the flow of billions of dollars in investment to Mexico, which has led to the creation of tens of thousands of auto jobs in that country, The Globe and Mail's Greg Keenan and Adrian Morrow report.

Canadian and Mexican officials have said they will fight any U.S. proposal that requires country-specific content.

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Trump to act on Iran

President Donald Trump is expected today to refuse to certify Iran's compliance with a multination nuclear deal, a move that could eventually ripple through the oil markets.

The question is whether Mr. Trump's decisions leads to fresh sanctions down the road.

"Given discourse about the Iran nuclear agreement, it is important to note that the 2015 Iran Nuclear Review Act gives Congress the option of reinstating sanctions under an expedited 60-day filibuster-proof legislative process if the president decides to decertify Iran," said Helima Croft, RBC's head of commodity strategy in New York.

"While in 2012 support for sanctions was bipartisan, not it is less so," she added in a report.

"In fact, a number of Democrats and even some Republicans have already expressed reservations about junking the [nuclear deal] and re-imposing sanctions in the absence of a clear violation of the nuclear agreement. This is in part because Washington will need to maintain good relations with international partners to combat growing threats such as North Korea."

Having said that, there are some in Washington pushing for penalties for infractions not included in the deal, which "could prompt Tehran to withdraw from the agreement as Iran's leadership insists that the nuclear agreement bars the re-imposition of the same economic penalties for non-nuclear reasons."


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