Economic and Social Reports

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February 2021

Spotlight on data and research

Economic performance associated with digitalization in Canada over the past two decades

Adoption of digital technologies by Canadian industries is associated with greater labour productivity and more resilience from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2002 to 2019, labor productivity grew 22.1% in digitally-intensive sectors, more than 3 times higher than in non-digitally-intensive sectors.

This article presents results from and describes a new composite index of digital intensity, developed by Statistics Canada researchers, that characterizes the intensity of digitalization in Canadian industries and compares the economic performance of sectors where digital inputs have been used more intensively in the production process. 

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Workers’ responses to job loss when employment opportunities are scarce

Examining the ways laid-off workers coped with job loss in the midst of the 2008-2009 recession can shed light on how to provide assistance to workers laid off in the wake of COVID-19. This study documents the degree to which workers displaced in 2009 used four adjustment strategies in 2010, the year following job loss: changing regions, moving into unincorporated self-employment, entering post-secondary education or a registered apprenticeship.

Between 4 and 6 percent of laid-off men and women entered post-secondary education in 2010. A similar proportion—close to 6 percent—changed economic regions from the year prior to job loss (2008) to the year following job loss (2010). Slightly more than 4 percent moved into unincorporated self-employment in 2010. In contrast, no more than 1 percent started a registered apprenticeship. Only a minority—about 1 percent—used more than one strategy.

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Research articles

Measuring digital intensity in the Canadian economy

This study describes in detail a new Statistics Canada index developed to measure the increasing intensity of digitalization in Canadian industries and its impact on the economy. 

The final composite index suggests that Canada’s economy-wide digital intensity improved continually, growing 60% from 2000-2002 to 2013-2015. Almost all industries became more digitally intensive over that time. However, this intensification of digitalization has been uneven across industries.

Some industries, such as information services, telecommunications and professional, scientific and technical services, experienced high digital intensities at the beginning of the sample period with a large increase over time. Whereas industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing and transportation, experienced low digital intensities in the beginning with a small increase over the period.

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Early earnings trajectories of international students after graduation from postsecondary programs

International students who graduated from Canada’s postsecondary institutions in 2010 to 2012 earned 11% less than students with Canadian citizenship in the first year after graduation and 12% less five years after graduation. The earnings gap was particularly large among those with a master’s degree (40%) and doctoral degree (35%) in the first year after graduation. These gaps decreased to 26% and 10%, respectively, in the fifth year after graduation.

Further findings of this study show that this disadvantage could be because international students were much less likely to gain work experience before graduation than students with Canadian citizenship.

About 44% of international students had no Canadian work experience before graduation, compared with 2% of students with Canadian citizenship. Limited years of residence in Canada, language proficiency, cultural differences, academic performance, and employers’ reluctance to recruit and train job applicants with temporary residency status may all be factors in international students’ having less pre-graduation work experience.

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