Canada’s economy added 157,000 new jobs last month, Statistics Canada says, enough to put employment numbers back above where they were before the pandemic started.
The jobs surge was more than twice as big as the 60,000 new jobs that economists were expecting.
It was also enough to push the jobless rate down two ticks to 6.9 per cent. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since the pandemic started.
Before the pandemic, Canada’s jobless rate was 5.6 per cent. It jumped up sharply in March, April and May of 2020, peaking at 13.7 per cent in May of last year, and has trended downward ever since.
While there are now the same number of jobs as there were before COVID-19 arrived in Canada, that doesn’t necessarily mean people are working as much as they were before.
The number of people working less than half the hours they would normally do is still 218,000 people higher than were doing so in February 2020. And the total number of hours worked by all employees is still 1.5 per cent below the pre-pandemic level, despite there being more jobs now.
But long-term joblessness persists
And there are troubling signs that plenty of people are being left behind, even as the job market expands. The number of people considered to be long-term unemployed — which means they haven’t had a job for at least 27 weeks in a row, or about six months — is now twice was it was before the pandemic, at 389,000 people. That ‘s more than a quarter of everyone without a job.
Leah Nord with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that’s a bad sign.
“It’s important to celebrate the encouraging gains we are seeing in employment numbers over the past month, yet we also cannot afford to sweep under the rug those numbers,” she said. “In the midst of a mass labour shortage, 27.3 per cent of unemployed Canadians are unaccounted for. Where did they go?”
“Canadians want to work; most are not unemployed by choice, so we need to dig down and find out exactly what’s holding them back so we can make evidence-based decisions. Our full economic recovery depends on it.”
Economist Sri Thanabalasingam with TD Bank agrees that long-term unemployment is concerning, but he’s not ringing alarm bells just yet.
The glut of people having trouble getting back into the workforce “could be reflecting the difficulties faced by long-term unemployed Canadians in finding new jobs, perhaps due to a deterioration of skill sets,” he said.
“That said, ongoing income support programs, such as the Canada recovery benefit, may also be a contributing factor. This program, among others, is expiring at the end of the month, which could lead to more people rejoining the workforce in October, that is, unless it is extended.”
Saudi Arabia’s PIF launches offshore platform tourism project
Saudi Arabia‘s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, announced on Saturday the launch of “THE RIG”, which it said would be the world’s first tourism destination on offshore platforms.
The fund, the engine of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman‘s economic transformation plans for Saudi Arabia, manages a portfolio worth $400 billion.
It added in a statement that the project was located in the gulf and spanned an area of more than 150,000 square metres.
It said the project would feature a number of attractions, including three hotels, restaurants, helipads, and a range of adventurous activities including extreme sports.
The funds did not disclose the value of the project.
(Reported by Saeed Azhar; Writing by Moataz Abdelrahiem; Editing by Alex Richardson)
The World Needs 16 Billion Covid Shots: New Economy Saturday – Bloomberg
Wanted: 16.5 billion vaccine doses.
That’s the number urgently needed to inoculate the world against Covid-19—on top of the roughly 6.5 billion doses already administered. This according to Chad P. Bown, a trade specialist at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, and Thomas J. Bollyky, the Director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Vaccinating the planet’s entire population is a moral imperative. The fact that only 3% of adults in low-income countries have been immunized is catastrophic. Putting more needles into arms is also a broader public health priority: the longer it takes to immunize everyone, the greater the risk deadlier variants will emerge.
As a result, full vaccination is clearly an economic necessity, too. But 19 months into a horrific pandemic that’s killed millions, impediments remain.
This Week in the New Economy
The International Chamber of Commerce estimates the global economy stands to lose as much as $9.2 trillion as a result of unequal vaccine access.
But vaccines are also a trade issue. Like cars, laptops and smartphones, their production relies on intricate networks of cross-border supply chains. This system of dispersed manufacturing has worked remarkably well for places where global vaccine production is concentrated: India, the U.S., the European Union, the U.K. and China.
But these countries have prioritized their own people over the global good.
So-called “vaccine nationalism” was perhaps understandable when the first shots arrived. Producer countries naturally scrambled to protect their own hospital workers and the elderly.
The practice became less defensible when these countries started vaccinating low-risk populations. And that inequity is arguably intolerable now that those same rich nations are offering boosters while millions of healthcare workers in poorer countries haven’t received their first shot.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, denounces this state of affairs as “vaccine apartheid.”
If producer countries won’t share their existing output, then they must ramp up production, argue Bollyky and Bown (a member of the Bloomberg New Economy Trade Council).
“The mathematics are simple but stunning,” they write. Apart from Johnson & Johnson, available vaccines require a two-dose regimen. That adds up to 14 billion doses for a global population of seven billion. Taking into consideration third doses, stockpiling and inevitable waste, and the world needs a total of 23 billion doses for full vaccination. Given that 6.5 billion have already been delivered, that means an extra 16.5 billion are required.
To achieve the additional output, Bown and Bollyky are calling for a “Covid-19 Vaccine Investment and Trade Agreement” among countries in the vaccine supply chain.
Members would set a framework to subsidize the full supply chain and work with COVAX, the nonprofit that distributes vaccines to mostly poor countries. Countries that restricted exports would be penalized through limits on their vaccine inputs. Transparency would keep the system honest.
“Trade ministers should do their part to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to Covid-19 vaccines,” Bown and Bollyky warned. “The threat that new and more devastating virus variants could emerge—against which existing Covid-19 vaccines would be ineffective—means that no one is safe until the pandemic is under control.”
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