Unemployment in Quebec hits record low
Quebec’s unemployment rate reached a record low of 4.9 per cent in December, a sign of a booming economy.
In fact, all throughout Canada job creation in 2017 reached a rate not seen since 2002, reducing the unemployment rate to its lowest point in more than 40 years.
“The labour market is doing well all over Canada,” said Germain Belzile, a senior researcher with the Montreal Economic Institute. “It’s turbo-charged right now.”
He says conditions in Quebec are especially good for business.
“The fact that we've got rid of our problems with public finances, in fact we have healthy surpluses right now, this encourages business to invest more,” he said. “To hire people also because they feel they will not get loaded with new taxes in the near future.”
However, according to economists, the flip side to this is a labour shortage in the province.
Employers are struggling to fill positions as the population ages out of the job market.
When there’s a labour shortage, employers will have to pay more. But according to McGill sociologist Barry Eidlin they haven’t had to so far in Quebec.
“What you would expect to see in a market where there is true labour shortage is rising wages, because laws of supply and demand mean as the demand for labour goes up the price of labour should go up as well,” he explained. “That's not what we're seeing. The wage data actually show that wages have been stagnant and actually dropped a little from 2016 -2017.”
Eidlin suggests Quebec follow Ontario’s lead, and increase the minimum wage to $15/hour because in a growing economy employers will hire.
“The main concern should be wages, Canadians have not really had a raise in over 30 years and we really need to figure out ways to raise wages for average Canadians,” he said.