Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ontario Loses 39,000 Jobs in December

A bit late on commenting on the latest Canadian employment numbers, but it needs to be analyzed. The headline was that Canada lost 46,000 jobs, but that really buries the lede that Ontario lost 39,000 jobs (with approximately 40% of the population) and the unemployment went from 7.2 to 7.9. Month to month numbers are going to be noisy but that is a pretty big jump for one jump.

There's been a raft of big plant closings in Ontario lately (for example Heinz in Leamington) and these jobs plus their knock on effects were bound to show up in the unemployment numbers eventually. A high dollar and high electricity prices have been causing manufacturing employment to leave Ontario so this shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

The dollar has been tanking recently (down to 92 cents) against its US counterpart and that definitely helps Ontario, both by making manufacturing wages cheaper relatively and also keeping Ontarians shopping at home and potentially increasing foreign tourism while depressing Ontarians spending their money abroad. The dollar decreasing also makes Ontario's high electricity prices more competitive with competing jurisdictions like New York state. Unfortunately prices are still scheduled to rise significantly over the next five years so even a 15% decrease in the value of the dollar won't help that much.

Losing employment is going to have to hurt Ontario tax revenues. Ontario income tax is heavily weighted to those who make enough to pay at the surtax levels so job losses at manufacturing plants which generally pay more than service sector jobs can have bigger effects. Jobless also spend less so HST revenues will be lower. Some of those employed will go on welfare which raises expenses for the province and municipalities. These job losses probably won't hurt government revenues for 2013 coming so late in the year, but they don't look good for next year.

I haven't checked the Hamilton individual numbers yet, but I'll make an individual post about them.

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