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How Much of Canada's Unemployment is Structural?

  • Lars Osberg
  • Zhengxi Lin

This paper starts from the definition that "structural unemployment occurs when workers are unable to fill available jobs because they lack the skills, do not live where jobs are available, or are unwilling to work at the wage rate offered in the market." This implies that the number of vacancies in the Canadian labour market is an upper bound to the extent of "structural unemployment." The paper summarizes available estimates of the vacancy rate in Canada. In the high technology sector, vacancies may be equivalent to 2.2 percent of the labour force but evidence from more respresentative surveys indicates a range of 0.45 to 0.75 percent for the economy as a whole. Although during the 1980s the outward shift in the relationship between the Help-Wanted Index and the unemployment rate raised concerns that structural unemployment was an increasing problem in Canada, that shift has been reversed in the 1990s.

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Article provided by University of Toronto Press in its journal Canadian Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 26 (2000)
Issue (Month): s1 (July)
Pages: 141-157

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Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:26:y:2000:i:s1:p:141-157
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  1. Pierre Fortin, 1999. "The great Canadian slump: a rejoinder to Freedman and Macklem," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1082-1092, August.
  2. Chantal Dupasquier & Alain Guay & Pierre St-Amant, 1997. "A Comparison of Alternative Methodologies for Estimating Potential Output and the Output Gap," Working Papers 97-5, Bank of Canada.
  3. Abraham, Katharine G, 1983. "Structural-Frictional vs. Deficient Demand Unemployment: Some New Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 708-24, September.
  4. Richard Archambault & Mario Fortin, 2001. "The Beveridge curve and unemployment fluctuations in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 58-81, February.
  5. Reid, Frank & Meltz, Noah M, 1979. "Causes of Shifts in the Unemployment-Vacancy Relationship: An Empirical Analysis for Canada," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(3), pages 470-75, August.
  6. Boothby, D., 1995. "COPS : A Revised Demand Side," Papers t-95-2, Gouvernement du Canada - Human Resources Development.
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