Better or Worse #2: This is the second instalment in a month-long municipal election series of infographics examining Hamilton's progress over recent years.

Monday’s first instalment of Hamilton: Better or Worse took at look at unemployment. It showed that the city’s jobless rate has basically returned to its pre-Great Recession baseline. But other measures show that the city’s economy hasn’t fully recovered from the 2008 economic meltdown.

Take, for instance, Hamilton’s welfare roles, which rose dramatically after October 2008's global stock market crash. In 2007, the city handled 9,753 Ontario Works cases during the average month (each case represents either a single person or family). By the end of 2009, that number recipients had jumped to 12,224, representing an increase of 25 per cent.

Average monthly Ontario Works caseload in Hamilton

However, unlike Hamilton’s jobless rate, the number of people on welfare continued to increase even after the recession had officially ended.

OW cases in Hamilton peaked in 2011. But the decline that’s followed has been consistent but slow. Last year, the city had 12,619 welfare cases on its books during the average month — nearly 3,000 more cases than the monthly average for 2007. 

Other recent data suggest that welfare recipients are staying in the system longer, further complicating the popular narrative about Hamilton's current so-called economic boom.