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EDITORIAL: Low unemployment rate means new challenges for employers

Canada’s population is aging and people are leaving or preparing to leave the job market
Help Wanted signs are becoming more common as the unemployment rate has reached a record low level. (Black Press file photo)

Canada’s unemployment rate is at a record low level once again.

The most recent figures, from June 2022, showed an unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent. This is the lowest rate since 1976 when Canadian unemployment rate data was first compiled.

The declining unemployment numbers, recorded in the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey for June 2022, are part of an ongoing trend. June was the fourth consecutive month to show a record low unemployment rate figure.

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The low unemployment rate is not the result of new jobs being created but rather a decrease in workers aged 55 and older. Canada’s population is aging and the number of people leaving or preparing to leave the workforce is greater than the number who are about to enter the job market.

It hasn’t always been like this. At times, there have been plenty of job seekers competing for a limited number of positions.

In December 1982, Canada’s jobless rate peaked at 13.1 per cent. And in November, 1992, another unemployment increase brought the rate to 12.1 per cent. Many who were looking for work during that time will remember a long, frustrating search. The only time in Canada’s history with a higher unemployment rate was during the Great Depression when close to one in five people were without work.

Today’s low unemployment rate benefits those looking for work, as there may be multiple job options available. Wages are also increasing as a result of the low unemployment rate, and according to the Labour Force Survey, average hourly wages in June of this year were 5.2 per cent higher than during the same month a year earlier. This is to be expected when job applicants may weigh multiple offers before deciding where they want to work. Workplace culture may also change as companies work to retain existing employees.

However, the low unemployment rate is proving especially challenging for some employers, particularly those involved in seasonal tourism-related or agriculture-related fields.

New strategies will be needed in order for businesses and employers to cope with dramatic changes in the labour market.

– Black Press