Instability trap: Canadians want work. Why have so many stopped looking?

Feb. 10, 2015 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

The percentage of working-age Canadians who aren’t working – who aren’t even looking for a job – is at a historic high years after the economy supposedly bounced back from the recession. The labour participation rate for Canadian men in their working prime – ages 25 through 54 – is the lowest it’s been since Statistics Canada started collecting that data.

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Canada’s Instability trap: When you’re income-rich, but asset-poor

Feb. 9, 2015 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Canada supposedly got off easy after the global recession. But a months-long Global News investigation has found the reality for many Canadians isn’t nearly as rosy as the headline figures suggest. Increasingly, families across the country find themselves in an instability trap, facing labour uncertainty and an eroded safety net. The social and economic implications are real — and serious.

  • More than half of Canadians make enough to get by from one month to the next but lack the financial cushion in easily available funds to shield them from the unexpected.
  • Canadians in their working prime are dropping out of the job market altogether or have simply stopped looking: Participation rates for men reached a historic low last year; women, whose job market participation rose for decades, has stagnated since 2006.
  • People are turning to cheque-cashing services to make ends meet only to find themselves in cycles of debt. And our analysis finds these businesses clustered in low-income, high-social-assistance areas. But who’s stepping in to fill that need?
  • More Canadians are working temp and contract jobs — and more of them are doing so when they’d rather not. This means lower wages, greater uncertainty and has serious impacts not only on their health but on their families, their communities and the local economy.
  • More Canadians are prematurely cashing out their RRSPs — not for education or home-buying purposes, but because they need the money, tax penalty or no.

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