Recession job losses not so bleak: StatsCan

The recent recession was not as bad, employment-wise, as previous economic downturns have been, a report suggests Wednesday.

Employment performance better than in 2 previous slowdowns

A worker at Chrysler's Windsor, Ont., assembly plant is shown. Canadian employment rebounded more quickly in 2010 than it did in past recessions, Statistics Canada said Wednesday. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

The recent recession was not as bad, employment-wise, in Canada as previous economic downturns have been, a report suggests.

Employment rebounded more quickly than in Canada's two previous recessions in the 1980s and 1990s, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The agency looked at the recessions of 1981-1984 and 1990-1994 and compared them with the period between October 2008 and October 2010.

Not only was the total job loss not as large, but the job market also rebounded more quickly, the agency found.

Canadian employment peaked in October 2008. Over the next 12 months, more than 400,000 jobs were lost. But those figures began to rebound quickly from late 2009 onward.

By January, the figure had fully recovered — 27 months after its initial trough.

In the recession of the early 1980s, that process took 39 months. In the 1990s, it took a full 52 months.

Despite the mathematical recovery, 800,000 more people remain out of work now than there were before the recession. That figure is not just those officially classed as unemployed — it includes people who were not looking for jobs and as such are not registered as officially unemployed.

Still, that increase is smaller than during the two previous downturns, especially because the unemployed population grew at a slower pace during the recent downturn.

Between October 2008 and October 2010, the number of officially unemployed people increased by 341,000, or 31 per cent. During the first two years of the 1990s downturn, unemployment increased by 453,000 or 42 per cent. In the first two years of the 1980s recession, unemployment grew by 669,000 or 75 per cent.

One reason for the slower pace of unemployment growth the latest time was a decrease in layoffs, the agency said.

Between October 2008 and October 2010, the number of permanent layoffs rose by about 86,000 or 30 per cent. This was below the increases of 57 per cent from April 1990 to April 1992 and 116 per cent from June 1981 to June 1983.

And between October 2008 and October 2010, the number of unemployed people who had been without a job for at least one year almost doubled.

But that's still a slower pace than in the previous two periods — the figure more than doubled in the 1990s and almost quadrupled in the 1980s.