Skip to main content

A record drop in public sector jobs?

worker, public sector

Much was  made by the media and others in the chattering classes of the "record" drop in public sector employment reported in the July Labour Force survey by Statistics Canada last week.

So, are public sector workers facing a fall?

For Ontario, the figures show a drop of 23,600 in  public sector employment.  That's a drop of  1.7% compared to the previous month, certainly a significant one-month drop (although slightly less than the Canada-wide decline of 2%).

But shake a few grains of salt on this monthly data.  Over the last three years, the trend is no growth rather than decline.  Since August 2010, Ontario public sector employment has stayed flat, hovering around 1.34 million, sometimes up a percent or two, sometimes down.

The Labour Force figures can move about significantly on a month by month basis, even while the trend is flat.  In July 2011, public sector employment fell 22,800 over the previous month  but this did not signal a trend -- public sector employment continued along in the same 1.34 million area.

Indeed, public sector employment fell almost 30,000 in July 2007, but far from starting a trend downwards this only led to three years of strong growth in public sector employment --  right through the recession.

From August 2007 until August 2010, public sector employment increased 10%.  After that, growth in public sector employment petered out, even though there was significant economic growth over the next three years. (A similar trend is seen for Canada-wide public sector employment.)

So, one month does not a trend make. Certainly, however, the faith the provincial and federal governments have put in more and more public sector austerity means that we have to keep watching the trend.

Private Sector -- A  Different Story
Private sector employment was also down in July -- dropping 10,000.  But private sector employment in Ontario has done a little better over the last three years, going up 148,700.   Still that only amounts to a 3.5% private sector increase over three years, about the same as the increase in population.

But if you examine private sector job performance since the recession the picture is much worse.   From August 2007, private sector employment has only increased 53,600, a paltry increase of 1.2% over six years.

That is far less than population growth.  Bottom line: the private sector is not generating many new jobs for Ontario.  

Public sector employment, in contrast, has run ahead of population growth over the same period, increasing 13.4%.  

While private sector employment was hard hit during the recession, public sector employment grew significantly.  It was only some years after the recession officially ended in 2009 that things changed --  for the worse for public sector employment and, to a small extent, for the better for private sector employment.

Photo: The Night Shift by Stephen Poff


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…