The NWT’s economy will come out of Covid-19’s initial months damaged but in better shape than other parts of Canada, the territory said on Friday.
The territorial government is forecasting a 3.3-percent contraction in its economy this year, which it says is “significantly less than the national average of 8.2 percent forecast by the Conference Board of Canada,” an economic think-tank.
Despite steep declines in the tourism and transportation industries, the territory said “steps taken to keep the diamond mines and the public sector active” had softened the pandemic’s blow.
Mining and government are by far the territory’s largest employers. The Ekati mine has suspended activities but the Gahcho Kué and Diavik mines remain fully operational.
The private sector is in worse shape. A GNWT-commissioned survey of businesses showed that 81 percent of NWT companies had experienced a “significant decrease” in revenues.
Tourism and transportation industries were the hardest-hit, telling the government they saw revenues drop by an average of 71 percent.
On the other hand, more than 90 percent of businesses surveyed by the territory in April and May reported they expected to make it through the pandemic.
Consumer spending and small business spending has rebounded since May, the territory said, and 71 percent of NWT residents surveyed were planning to travel within the territory in the next six months.
The Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment said the results of third survey – carried out in June to examine the impact on consumer demand – is coming soon.
According to the territory, the various surveys are “part of … ongoing work to better understand the effects of Covid-19 on the NWT and how best to respond to them.”
How Ottawa can end CERB, boost the economy and help the unemployed – The Globe and Mail
The good news is that our economy is reopening. The bad news is Canada has a ways to go before recovering all the jobs lost this year.
The return journey will take months and, if there are headwinds or speed bumps, it could take years. That means even as things improve for most Canadians, a large minority will be unemployed or underemployed for some time, through no fault of their own. They are going to need support, and the traditional Employment Insurance program won’t cut it, since many of the unemployed do not qualify for it.
But first, the good news.
The Canadian labour market has already recouped more than half its pandemic job losses. By April, 5.5 million workers had been affected by the economic shutdown – three million lost their jobs, and 2.5 million were still employed yet not working. But between April and July, the economy added more than 1.6 million jobs, according to Statistics Canada, and the number of people working less than half their usual hours fell below one million.
That means the number of workers affected by COVID-19 has dropped from 5.5 million to 2.3 million. And the unemployment rate, which rose from 5.6 per cent in February to 13.7 per cent in May, has fallen back to 10.9 per cent. There is every indication that those numbers will continue to decline in August and – assuming no health or economic speed bumps – through the fall.
To keep this moving in the right direction, the most important thing is continued progress on reopening the economy. And that in turn is dependent on smart public-health measures that allow reopening to happen, without sparking major COVID-19 outbreaks.
But even if everything goes right – steady economic recovery, no second pandemic spike, and strong demand from our chief export market in the United States – Canada’s job market won’t get back to where it was in February until late 2021 or 2022. The excess of job seekers over jobs is dropping fast, but hundreds of thousands of idle Canadian workers will not find work for some time.
The question is what should be done to help them.
The Trudeau government has yet to spell out the details but, later this month, it is going to allow the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program to begin wrapping up, transferring responsibility for supporting most jobless people to a redesigned Employment Insurance program. In principle, that’s not a bad idea. It all comes down to how EI is redesigned.
CERB had to be created for two reasons. First, because EI’s processing systems couldn’t handle millions of people all losing their jobs, and all applying for benefits, at the same time. And second, because most unemployed Canadians don’t quality for EI. In 2018, only 42 per cent of the unemployed were eligible.
The tricky balance Ottawa has to strike involves providing a robust safety net for those who are genuinely unemployed – of whom there will still be about two million in September, and hundreds of thousands next year – while not providing that help in a way that discourages people from working.
The best way to do that may be to relax the Employment Insurance rules. To qualify for EI now, a worker must have worked between 420 and 700 insurable hours, depending on their local unemployment rate, and have accumulated those hours either in the past year or since their last claim, whichever period is shorter. Temporarily relaxing the criteria would allow more people to qualify.
However, a lot of today’s income-less people used to be self-employed, and they may not qualify for EI, even under looser rules. Ottawa is going to have to create some kind of bridge program for them – and it has promised to do so.
Getting more unemployed people into the EI tent makes sense. EI allows people to work while receiving benefits, with only some of their earnings clawed back, which means that finding work is rewarded rather than punished. EI also offers programs for education and retraining – and given that a period of joblessness is the best time possible for someone to acquire new skills, the financial support for unemployed workers to do so should, if anything, be expanded.
The ideal outcome? A more accessible EI program, but one that, come the new year, few Canadians are applying for – not because the rules are too restrictive, but because the economic recovery has been so successful.
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Sorry Coronavirus Pandemic, The Economy Has Had It With You – Forbes
The global economy hasn’t got time for the pain.
Despite second waves in Australia, Japan and Spain — all countries that were deemed success stories and out of the woods — and some U.S. states like Rhode Island rolling back plans to open up, the global recovery narrative is alive and well on Wall Street.
Take that panic sellers!
Before anyone thinks the pandemic is over and the economy is going to return to pre-Covid levels, it bears keeping in mind that the economy is only recovering from being nearly completely shut down. Think of it as a dimmer switch; once turned to off, it’s now at the lowest brightness possible without flickering off. That’s kind of where most of the developed markets sit. Within emerging markets, only China is growing into positive GDP territory.
Last week’s economics data showed the global economy is on a path to recovery. Although re-accelerating Covid-19 cases are fuelling fears of ‘second waves’ in the epicenter states, their economic consequences would likely be more muted as the appetite for lockdowns again is weak.
Over the weekend we learned that President Trump will not wait for Congress to decide on some aspects of the coronavirus relief packages passed since the spring. He will extend the Federal government’s unemployment insurance, but will cut it from $600 a week to $400. Many companies, from services to assembly lines, have said they cannot get workers to come back to the shop floor because they are making more on unemployment.
Meanwhile, the central banks in advanced economies continue to be supportive of both stocks and bonds. Many people hate this as it distorts price discovery, among other things. But the Fed has seen what happens when retired persons lose 40% of their retirement portfolio due to economic crises. Unless they are buying those same assets back on the lows, which most are not doing because they are not working and likely not investing, then they have to wait years for those prices to recover.
The Fed’s moves in the market may be beneficial to big investment houses, but it is also beneficial to retirees who are “guaranteed” a backstop to major market corrections that destroy their retirement accounts.
Economic data looks okay.
July PMIs continue to suggest a solid take-off point for growth in the third quarter, broadly speaking.
In the euro area, the final July PMIs showed a rebound was in effect and China’s manufacturing numbers and the U.S. ISM surveys both surprised investors.
Combined with solid German factory orders and better-than-expected exports from China and Taiwan, a further recovery in global manufacturing and international trade is expected by market consensus in the third quarter.
This week, new Chinese data on credit, industrial production and investment could further fill in the picture of China’s post-pandemic recovery.
“This week’s retail July sales data for the U.S. and China will be important to watch,” says Christian Keller, economist for Barlcays in London .
Wall Street hopes this week is as good as last week when it comes to recovery news. Last week’s better-than-expected U.S. job claims and nonfarm payroll figures gave everyone a reason to stay bullish. But the risk of new layoffs is plausible, especially in states that have either added restrictions to businesses, like New Jersey and Rhode Island, or finding out that mandatory mask use is a buzz kill keeping people away from traditional activities. The employment outlook in the U.S. will be one of main drivers of consumer confidence not only here, but in the region as the rest of the Americas starts to see light at the end of the tunnel.
GUEST COLUMN: Diversify the economy through clean growth – The Journal Pioneer
By Kieran Hanley / Special to The Telegram
As the world battles through the pandemic, its nations are deliberating on what shape global economic recovery will take. There is a growing sense that investments should meet two tests: that they contribute to economic activity and jobs right away; and that they will provide longer-term benefits for the economy, the environment, and society. In short, economic recovery and “clean growth” should go hand in hand.
This is the case in Canada. Long before the pandemic, our federal government was aggressively investing in initiatives related to climate change, sustainability and clean technology. So, it is a safe bet to assume that its approach to economic recovery will follow suit. Influential groups like the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery say that building back better means “supporting the jobs, infrastructure and growth that will keep Canada competitive in the clean economy of the 21st century.”
For its part, Newfoundland and Labrador has been hit hard by not just the pandemic, but also the collapse of oil prices. The reality is that we need to take advantage of any lifeline available to us. And so, part of our economic recovery has to be making the most of any and all federal programs — many of which will have a clean growth twist. We need to be prepared for this.
Yet the opportunity for our province extends far beyond simply being reactive.
There are also opportunities for brand new industries that can put our province at the forefront of the energy transition and diversify our economy.
The pursuit of sustainability within our offshore oil and gas industry will lead to the development and application of new low-carbon products, services and processes that will not only be demanded worldwide and across multiple oceans sectors — but will also contribute to the long-term success of this industry here at home.
The accelerated electrification of our economy will contribute to mitigating the costs of Muskrat Falls. This means increasing the number of electric cars on our roads, converting our Metrobus fleets to run on electricity and switching buildings from fossil fuel-based heating sources to electric. This also means designing a future that involves electrified ferries, seaport and airport operations and industrial processes.
These are just two areas where clean growth perfectly aligns with existing provincial priorities and will create jobs. But there are also opportunities for brand new industries that can put our province at the forefront of the energy transition and diversify our economy.
The production of hydrogen is an important example. Hydrogen is a fuel that emits zero emissions and can be produced through low or zero-emissions means. The past year has seen rapid progress for this industry, with interest intensifying during the pandemic. Several countries are forcefully pursuing its production, with Canada set to announce a national strategy in the near future. Given our existing marine infrastructure and access to enormous renewable energy resources, Newfoundland and Labrador may be in an excellent position to become a global producer of hydrogen — as we are of oil today.
But to make the most of any of these opportunities, we need a plan. That is why in June, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA) submitted a series of recommendations for Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic recovery — with a key action being the creation of a “Clean Growth Directorate” within government. Between navigating resources, regulations, incentives and innovation supports, many government departments have a role to play in the pursuit of clean growth, but none are entirely responsible. A whole-of-government approach to clean growth — and meeting our net zero commitments — is required in order to attain the level of proactivity that is needed. With new provincial leadership comes an opportunity to take deliberate and targeted action.
The clean growth opportunity is immense. It not only provides environmental benefits, but also contributes to economic resilience in a world that is increasingly concerned with greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts. Newfoundland and Labrador is blessed with a wealth of resources and is home to a budding technology sector that can enable our province to become one of the cleanest jurisdictions on the planet and an inspiration to other regions around the world.
Let’s put people to work today, building the economy of tomorrow. NEIA stands ready as a partner in the pursuit of any and all options.
Kieran Hanley is executive director of NEIA, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association.
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