Workers Most Vulnerable to Possible Double-dip Recession, CAW says

September 9, 2011, 10:00 AM EST

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Canada's job market still hasn't fully recovered from the last major economic crisis, leaving workers more vulnerable to layoffs, wage cuts and poorer quality job prospects in the event of a double-dip recession, says CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza's comments come after Canada's latest national job report showed stagnant growth over the month of August, as the economy lost over 5,000 net jobs and 16,000 more Canadians joined the unemployment rolls.

"There are clear signs that our economy is struggling and facing down another potential recession," Lewenza said. "Our government can keep denying that fact, or they can take proactive measures to lessen its impact on Canadians."

Lewenza said that, while still poor, Canada's job market indicators prior to the 2008 global financial crisis showed workers had entered the recession in a much stronger position than today.

In September of 2008, there were fewer Canadians vying for jobs (18.3 million), the unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent, the employment rate (the proportion of Canadians actively employed among the total working age population) was 63.7 per cent, and part-time work made up 18.5 per cent of total jobs.

Today, there are more Canadians in the labour market (18.7 million), unemployment rate is at 7.3 per cent, the employment rate has dropped to 61.9 per cent and the share of part-time jobs has risen to historic highs of over 19 per cent in recent months.

He noted that Canada's recovery period flooded the economy with too many poor quality temporary jobs, contract jobs and other more 'precarious' forms of work - filled by Canada's most vulnerable working populations, including women, temporary foreign workers, new immigrants and youth.

"These workers are often the first to lack access to important workplace benefits and government benefits, and face the headwinds of recession without adequate protection," Lewenza said.

"It's time for the Conservative government to stop just waiting for disaster to strike, and start putting measures in place to deal with this impending crisis. This must come in the form of a good jobs strategy, which would promote the creation of sustainable full-time, permanent employment."

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