The Performance of the 1990s Canadian Labour Market - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 11F0019M2000148


There is a general sense that the 1990s 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 1990s labour market, and asks just how different it was from the 1980s. 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 1990s? 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 1990s? why did per capita income growth stall in the 1990s? 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 1980s and 1990s was on distributional outcomes - who is winning and who is losing. Some of the distributional outcomes of the 1990s 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 1990s labour market as compared to the 1980s.

Issue Number: 2000148
Author(s): Heisz, Andrew; Picot, Garnett
FormatRelease dateMore information
PDFMay 4, 2000

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