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Statistics Canada has released its Labour Force Survey for March 2011. The unemployment rate was barely changed from the prior month (down to 7.7% from 7.8%). Here’s a long term chart from 1976 to the present.

A shorter term chart (January 2008 to present) shows the changes since the period immediately prior to the recession.

The shorter term chart highlights how unemployment, which initially rose quite quickly, has been slow to come down.

It still remains lower than the US rate, though the US rate had been falling faster than the Canadian rate and the difference between the two is not as large as it once was.

The current difference is 1.1% (7.7% in Canada vs. 8.8% in the US), but in April 2010 the difference was 1.8% (8.1% vs. 9.9%).

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The unemployment figures for December 2010 were recently released for both Canada and the USA. Simple summary: Canada no change at 7.6% and for the USA a decline from 9.8% to 9.4%. Here’s the data for both countries for 2010 showing the rates for each month and the change from January to December:

Here’s the long term chart for Canada (going back to the beginning of 1976):

And a shorter term chart for Canada (since January of 2008 – prior to the start of the recession).

It’s quite noticeable that despite the improvement, unemployment is coming down much more slowly than it went up.

And here’s the graph comparing Canada and the USA from January 2000.

All figures are based on officially reported unemployment rates, which as always are open to some dispute.

Last Friday Statistics Canada released the latest Labour Force Survey with the numbers for August. Overall unemployment is up slightly (from 8.0 % to 8.1 %) for the second month in a row, indicating (depending on how you look at it) either a weakening of the recovery or a continuation of the recession. Here’s the data for the year to date showing an improvement of only 0.2 % year to date.

Here’s a graph of the dataset from inception showing the change in perspective.

And a briefer graph showing the changes since just prior to the beginning of the current recession.

There’s a few interesting points looking closer at the data. While there were gains in employment, they were more than offset by the increase in the participation rate (from 64.6 % to 64.9 %). The modest economic growth evidently insufficient to offset this.

The largest growth was in educational services, probably account for the drop in the unemployment rate for females age 25+ (while the rate for men in the same age category went up). Here’s a table with a summary.

Statistics Canada has released the unemployment data for July 2010, showing a small up tick of 0.1%, putting the rate at 8.0%. In the United States in comparison, the rate was unchanged at 9.5%. Here’s the long term graph of Canada’s unemployment rate.

And here’s the change since September 2007 when the rate first bottomed out at 5.9%, the lowest rate in the dataset (which starts at January 1976).

From the chart you can see that while the unemployment rate increased quite quickly during the recession, the decline has been much more gradual. The following table summarizes the differences in the rate of change.

Looking at the long term data, the rate of increase in the unemployment was the fastest since early 1982, even though unemployment isn’t nearly as high this time (it peaked out at 13.1% in December of 1982). This time it started from a lower base and the increasing unemployment did not persist for as many months. Looking at the data for the 12 month periods leading up to the peak unemployment rate in the two recessions you can see how the jumps in the unemployment rate were persistently higher in the ’82 recession.

Based on the unemployment and bankruptcy data posted yesterday, I put something together for the time period where I was able to obtain data for both unemployment (from Statistics Canada) and bankruptcies (from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada). This covers the period from January 1991 to April 2010.

Here’s my chart of the data.

What I found interesting was the disconnect between the two during the 90’s and how they seem to more closely correlate in the last ten years. Granted there is a problem with making a direct comparison, since one is a percentage and the other is a raw number, but it still would be reasonable to expect them to move in the same direction.

I split the data set in half (116 observations each) used Excel 2007 to calculate correlations for the two periods (Jan ’91 to Aug ’00 & Sept ’00 to Apr ’10) and here’s the results.

It’s interesting to observe the relatively moderate rate of bankruptcy during the ’90’s (unemployment peaked at 12.1% in Nov ’92 but bankruptcies only start rising in the late ’90’s, hitting a peak of 8,507 in Apr ’97) and the much higher rate currently (unemployment peaked at 8.7% in Aug ’10 and bankruptcies peaking immediately thereafter at 12,305 in Sept ’10).

Here’s a short summary.

The Labour Force Survey for June 2010 has been released by Statistics Canada showing a modest decrease in unemployment from the prior month of 0.2%, bringing it to 7.9%. The peak of the current recession was 8.7%  in August 2009. The unemployment rate really began rising after October 2008 (when it was 6.2% – November 2008 was 6.5%). It peaked in August 2009 at 8.7% (that’s after ten months) and in the succeeding ten months  has declined to 7.9%.

Here’s a table showing the decline sine the peak unemployment rate.

Looking over the entire dataset from January 1976 it becomes apparent how persistently high unemployment in this country once used to be. Here’s a brief table showing some of the tops and bottoms in the rate between the beginning of the dataset (January 1976) and June 2010.

And here’s the graph of the entire dataset from January 1976 to June 2010.