The true size and character of the unemployment problem in Canada can be partly guaged from the information in figs.1 and 2 attached.
From the Statistics Canada data in Fig.1, for April 2003 we find:-
Unemployment : 1.281 million persons
Not in Labour Force: 8.212 million persons
Employment: 15.698 million persons
Labour Force: 16.979 million persons.
The Unemployment Rate of 7.5% refers to 100 X (Unemployment / Labour Force) and is the figure customarily referred to in almost all the media reports. I have numerous newspaper articles on file which also report this number as if it refers to the numbers of persons unemployed in real terms; as we will see shortly and based on currently available information, this understates the true size and character of the problem by a factor of 4 to 5.
In addition, persons who are not in this category but unemployed in real terms (E.I. benefits expired, social assistance recipients, people not eligible for either E.I. of social assistance etc.) are customarily referred to in the media - again based on Stats Can / HRDC categorisations – as discouraged workers, people who .have dropped out of the labour force., or people who …have given up looking for work.., without any qualifying comment or analysis - either in terms of numbers, or the implications for the economy of not dealing with the issue. Further, the question of what image this creates in the public mind, concerning this large group of people (currently numbering about 3 million), is conveniently never discussed.
In addition, if the reader will now look at the Statistics Canada web page located at:-
then he / she will see, among other things, that it includes two graphs - one showing the trend in the number of persons employed, the other showing the trend in the number unemployed - and after a quick glance at the latter, it is immediately obvious from the figures that it in fact only refers to the official unemployed. There is no similar graph concerning the group referred to as Not in Labour Force. The overall impression which this creates, in the author s opinion, is that this group Not in the Labour Force is just an unimportant detail.
In fact, as we will see in a moment and based on the information currently available, this population group Not in the Labour Force currently contains about 3 million people - who are mostly employable social assistance recipients (34% of the group) and discouraged workers (31% of the group), with the remaining 35% “unknown” in terms of their status or intents. The remaining 5 million (out of about 8 million) in this group are students or retirees.
If we now look at fig.2 (“Ottawa’s Hidden Workforce”, 1998, page 5) , the reasons will become apparent. Out of the total of 211,600 persons in this group, Not in the Labour Force, at the time of the report, there were estimated to be 80,500 persons (see bottom left hand corner of fig. 2) who could be regarded as willing and capable of working if allowed to - 38% out of the group. Allowed, in this context, means subject to removal of all barriers of every type. Additionally, out of the group referred to as Employed, there were an estimated 25,000 who were Under-employed composed of involuntary part-time workers, skilled immigrants and post-secondary graduates, which represents 6.2% of the group referred to as “Employed”.