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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.

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.