A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

High job numbers seem overly rosy

Hard to believe there’s so much more employment in hardest hit sectors

Something doesn’t add up.

Members of the ruling federal and provincial government parties are busy patting themselves on the back for job creation numbers since the pandemic, particularly during the last few months.

The media has been putting out these stories on a regular basis without questioning the information. We are.

Statistics Canada says the economy apparently added 303,000 jobs in March as employment increased, with gains in sectors hardest hit by public health restrictions. Really? That seems suspect at best.

Statistics Canada says 95,000 of those were retail jobs, fully recouping losses sustained in January lockdowns, plus an increase of 21,000 in the accommodation and food services sector.

This all outpaces the February numbers when a 259,000 job gain allegedly occurred.

The kicker is the job numbers came just over a week before the federal Liberals release a budget where employment levels are expected as a gauge for planned stimulus measures.

It’s entirely possible we’re talking apples and oranges here. Some of those so-called new jobs might be people who lost their other jobs because of COVID and might be returning to the work force in a different capacity.

If that’s the case, we should be stressing the net gain or loss in jobs which would certainly paint a less rosy picture.

The bottom line is you can slant the numbers any way you want to look good.

It’s the same story in B.C. with the Labour Force Survey indicating the addition of 35,000 jobs in March. According to a press release, this now makes 11 consecutive months of job gains, the province has remarkably surpassed 100 per cent of pre-pandemic employment levels and B.C. somehow has the highest job-recovery rate in Canada.

“While this report is another sign our approach to an innovative, sustainable and inclusive economic recovery is working, some sectors are still struggling, and we are not out of the woods yet,” says Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “With recent temporary public health orders necessary to address rising COVID-19 case counts, we expect those impacts will be reflected in next month’s jobs report.”

Those comments don’t quite match the rosy economic numbers presented. We’re betting there will be another huge increase for April, whether it’s reflective of the economy or not.


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