Economists believe that Canada’s job market has recovered extraordinarily, leaving the US struggling behind with supply chain bottlenecks, labour shortages, and high inflation issues.

Jim Stanford

Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, at the Australia Institute, shared an article on the latest Statistics Canada employment report suggesting that the country has recovered its total employment levels of 19.1 million workers since Covid-19 hit. However, the recovery is not expected to be full as the population has grown over time.

Stanford points at the unnoticed angle to the story, which is the emergence of the employment gap between Canada and the US. Both countries suffered severe job losses during the first Covid-19 lockdowns, with employment rate falling by 16% from February to April 2020. The path to recovery has also been the same for the two countries, but Canada has been able to regain employment levels faster than the US.

While the US employment rate was five million jobs short than when Covid hit, Canada was regaining pre-pandemic jobs totals in September. Additionally, Canadian employment has grown more than twice as fast in the past four months, Stanford stated.

Simon Wren-Lewis

Simon Wren-Lewis, economist and professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and a fellow of Merton College, retweeted an article shared by chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, Torsten Bell, on millions of British households facing a financial crisis, with winter approaching and continuing debates on how to reduce energy costs temporarily. Economists believe that falling incomes and the cost-of-living crisis is further squeezing household budgets, possibly holding back the recovery from Covid-19.

Jonathan Marshall, an economist, believes that the most important area is to support the incomes of the poor amid the end of the Covid-19 support schemes, and to cope with the rising inflation that is being driven by higher energy costs.

The impact of the soaring energy bills on low-income households is already visible amid the pandemic recovery, with the price cap increasing by 12% on 1 October. Some analysts have estimated the energy bills to rise to more than $2272.47 per household by next April, a near-50% increase on the average bills in 2020. This increase is expected to disproportionately impact the UK’s lower-income households, who spend three times more on energy bills compared to richer families.

John Cassidy

John Cassidy, a journalist and staff writer at The New Yorker, shared an article on the Covid-19 pandemic having changed the balance of power by making labour relatively scarce across critical industries in the US. Referring to historian, socialist, and philosopher, Karl Marx’s views on the 1867 American civil war, of having a reserve army of jobless workers to keep in check the demand of those employed, Cassidy opines that American workers are finally fighting back and abandoning low-paid and high-risk jobs.

Tens and thousands of United Auto Workers (U.A.W.) members walked away from their jobs at 14 John Deere plants. The first strike in 35 years at the heavy-equipment manufacturer took place after workers rejected a tentative agreement between the management and union leaders. Despite being a seemingly sound contract that included pay increases, bonuses and cost of living adjustments to cushion the pandemic impacts and years of harsh contracts, workers demanded further changes, such as the retirement benefits of new workers matching those of existing workers.

Earlier this year, about 100 members from the food manufacturing company Kellogg walked away from their jobs to protest against the two-tier pay system, which would give newer hires lower wages and fewer benefits. Additionally, nearly 2,000 healthcare workers went on strike at a Buffalo hospital to protest against the low wages and poor working conditions. Experts believe that the pandemic has radicalised workers, especially frontline workers, which is likely to strengthen the bargaining power of labour for a while.