The myth of the full time worker

If most of us were asked to describe what ‘work’ looks like I suspect we would talk about getting up in the morning, going off to work – maybe fighting rush hour traffic, putting in eight hours and then going home.

The truth is that across Canada only about 50% of us actually worked full time and all year in 2015 (Census data).  The rest of us (all workers) worked part time or part year or part time and part year.  You can break this data down further into age groups and tease out students, etc. but at the end of the day a lot of people work part time or seasonal jobs.

Why this matters is that many people working seasonal or part of the year are considered ‘unemployed’ when they are not working.  As I have written before this distorts the labour market picture around the province and can lead to policies – and business decisions – that are holding back growth.

The following table shows a select group of communities by the number of persons working either part time or part year (at the municipality level I can’t break out part time or part year), the share of total workers and the average weeks worked during the year.  In the northeastern part of the province only about 35% of the population works full time and year round.  The other 65% work part time and or seasonal jobs.  In Bas-Caraquet only 19% of workers were employed full time and full year.

There are other pockets around the province that have a high share of part time/part year workers.  Miramichi, some communities in Charlotte County, etc. but when you get to the larger urban centres the communities start to look more like the national labour market.

Again this is not a criticism per se or any kind of a judgement.  I’ll leave that to others.  My interest is ensuring firms around the province – from restaurants and grocery stores to fish plants and trucking firms – have workers and I think we are pretending there is an available workforce (i.e. with the skills and interest in the available jobs)  in many of these communities when there is not.


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2 Responses to The myth of the full time worker

  1. Angie Cormier says:

    Thank you for sharing this, David. I always enjoy reading your work. I was wondering what makes you say that people may not be interested or have the skills to be employed by employers looking for staff. Did part of your analysis include a skills/education/motivation assessment of these same populations as compared to the types of demand for employees or did I misunderstand?


  2. Nothing rigorous but I am hearing more and more employers struggling to find workers in communities with unemployment rates nominally above 20%.

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