The Performance of the 1990's Canadian Labour Market
StatCan Analytical Studies Working Paper No. 148
43 Pages Posted: 22 May 2000
Date Written: April 2000
There is a general sense that the 1990's labour market was unique. It has been characterized by notions such as "downsizing", "technological revolution", "the knowledge-based economy", "rising job instability", and so on. This paper provides an extensive overview of the performance of the 1990's labour market, and asks just how different it was from the 1980's. It goes on to ask if the facts are consistent with many common beliefs and explanations. The paper focuses on (a) macro-level labour market outcomes, and (b) distributional outcomes. Macro-level topics include: has the nature of work changed dramatically in the 1990's? Has there been a continued ratcheting up of unemployment? Have we witnessed rising job instability and increased levels of layoffs? Did company downsizing increase in the 1990's? Why did per capita income growth stall in the 1990's? For a worker with a given level of human capital, has there been a deterioration in labour market outcomes? Much of the focus in the labour market over the 1980's and 1990's was on distributional outcomes - who is winning and who is losing. Some of the distributional outcomes of the 1990's labour market addressed in the paper include: outcomes for men and women; changes in the relative wages of the highly educated and earnings inequality; trends in the rate of low-income; the changing outcomes for recent labour market entrants, including young people and immigrants; and the extent to which technological change plays a major role in these outcomes. The paper concludes with a discussion of the overall performance of the 1990's labour market as compared to the 1980's.
JEL Classification: J30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation