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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%).

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.

Statistics Canada has released it’s Labour Force Survey for November 2010 showing a drop in the overall unemployment rate from 7.9 to 7.6%. This is the lowest the rate has been since January of 2009 when it was 7.3%.

According to the survey, over the past year part time employment has grown by 4% whilst full time employment has grown by 1.4% (page 8 of the document). A person who got a part time job is no longer considered unemployed, even if they were (or still are) seeking full time employment. They may be underemployed, but Stats Can does not publish an underemployment rate or a quality of employment index (that I know of). From page 11 of the survey, here’s a chart showing the changes in full vs part time employment since January 2007.

The full time employment index has yet to recover to pre-recession levels, though the part time employment index is well above its pre-recession level.

Private sector employment has also remained relatively weak. Another chart from page 11 of the survey showing that the private sector employment index has yet to recover to its pre-recession level.

Also interesting about the above graph are the changes in the self-employment index (which is really just another part of private sector employment as far as I can tell).

The change in the unemployment rate was also driven by a decrease in the participation rate for the 15 to 24 age group. In October the participation rate was 64.1%, for November it was 63.2%. So even though employment in this age bracket was little changed, from 2,402,700 in October to 2,407,500 in November, there was a large change in its unemployment rate, from 15.0% to 13.6% (the numbers are taken from the tables on page 27 of the LFS).

Here’s a graph showing the most recent month’s data as part of the historical data series going back to 1976.

And here’s a short term chart covering the last three years (essentially the immediate pre-recession period to present) showing the slow recovery in employment.

In the USA the unemployment rate increased in November to 9.8%, up from 9.6% the previous month. Here’s a comparison of the Canadian and American unemployment rates since January 2000.

Statistics Canada has released the unemployment data for October 2010 showing a small downtick in the rate from 8.0% to 7.9%. This leaves the rate in generally the same trending area it has been in for most of the year. Here’s a table with the year to date numbers.

On the long term chat you can see the flattening out.

The shorter term chart makes the current meandering trend more visible.

The change at least compares favorably with the US where the unemployment rate was unchanged for the month at 9.6%. Here’s a table with a summary of the differences between the two.

Here’s a chart comparing rates in the two countries for the past decade.

From the chart you can see the US rate starting to rise earlier and for a longer period.

Interesting note I didn’t realize. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (where I got the US data from) doesn’t charge anything for their datasets. Statistics Canada charges $3.00 per dataset. So if you want unemployment data broken down by age, education etc you pay for each category within that dataset (ie. each age group or educational grouping counts as one dataset that you are charged for – so 5 age groups, you pay $15.00). I’d be inclined to do more analysis otherwise.

Statistics Canada has released the unemployment figures for September 2010 and they show a very modest decline in the overall unemployment rate, from 8.1% to 8.0%. Here’s a table with the year to date data.

And the long term graph with all the data since January 1976.

And a short term graph with the data since the beginning of the recession.

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.

Earlier this week the  Canadian bankruptcy figures for June 2010 were released. Here’s a table with the year to date figure.

And here’s a chart of the bankruptcy data since the beginning of the available data series.

Looking at the chart it apparent that, like unemployment, bankruptcies have come off of their recessionary high but remain elevated.  If we look at the period before and through the recession (July ’07 thru June ’10 – three years) it’s evident that both unemployment and bankruptcies are falling more slowly than they went up.

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.