67 per cent of Canadians feel a recession is imminent within the next three years
Despite record-low unemployment numbers, 32 per cent of Canadians have reported feeling very negatively about their current job security, according to the latest Forum Research poll published Tuesday.
The dour outlook persists in spite of the nationwide unemployment rate hitting a low of 5.4 per cent for the first time since that data was collected in 1976.
“I think what masks everything is the idea about precarious work where someone could be working but we don’t know if that’s an permanent job in the old-fashioned sense or if its precarious,” said Dr Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research.
Nearly two-thirds of Canadians, or 65 per cent of respondents, also believe the country has become more expensive to live in, while 29 per cent said it’s neither more nor less expensive.
Precarious work refers to freelancing, contract and part-time work. A Bank of Canada report from February found that almost a third of Canadians participate in precarious work. The report found the majority did so out of necessity rather than choice. The equivalent number of full-time jobs was estimated to be around 700,000.
While there are certainly economic downsides to precarious work, Craig Alexander, the chief economist at Deloitte, sees these downsides more for millennials as they struggle to find full-time jobs. For many baby boomers, it is the opposite.
“For part time work, the majority of the growth is by people aged 55+. A lot of older baby boomers that are leaving their primary careers are staying attached to the labour market in a tangential fashion,” said Alexander. “Similarly, if we look at the share of workers aged 55+ in temporary work we can see that there’s been a significant increase.”
Alexander also notes that Statistics Canada does not produce data on how many people are involuntarily in temporary or contract work.
Aside from precarious work, there are many potential causes for the disconnect between Canadians’ perceptions and the statistics presented. Dr Sherry Cooper, the chief economist at the Dominion Learning Centres, says Canada’s outlook is reflective of global changes.
“The oil sector has been in the doldrums for a long time. And then there’s the risk of trade concerns,” said Cooper. “We saw the trade data improve for the month of April but we’ve been sideswiped by the U.S. tariffs and by the risk of a trade war… we’ve all seen the difficulties in global geopolitical tensions, most of them the result of an unusually unstable U.S. diplomatic stance.”
Cooper’s thoughts regarding the oil sector correlate with Bozinoff’s findings, where 45 per cent of Albertans were feeling job insecurity. The latest report finds Alberta’s unemployment rate at 6.7 per cent, behind only New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bozinoff also notes that the relationship between perceptions of job security and income levels was a perfectly linear one, with 54 per cent of people making less than $20,000 had a negative feeling, whereas 81 per cent of the wealthiest recipients felt secure.
Canadians are also feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks, with 65 per cent of recipients believing that the country has become more expensive to live in.
Interestingly, the perception of whether or not Canada has become more expensive did not vary by income level. Voting intentions were also seen to correlate with perceptions around job security.
“You’ll find that supporters of three parties, the Liberals, Greens, and Bloc Québécois are feeling better about their job prospects,” said Bozinoff. “Less likely to feel good about their job security are Conservative and NDP supporters.”
An additional discovery of the poll was that 67 per cent of Canadians feel a recession is imminent within the next three years, with 21 per cent saying it is very likely. Only 12 per cent think a recession is not likely at all. Seventy-five per cent of Albertans think it is very likely. Cooper doesn’t think it is inevitable, but does not rule out the possibility.
“Expansions don’t last forever and for sure if there’s a great deterioration in the trade situation and an all-out trade war then a global recession is possible but it won’t be made in Canada, that’s for sure,” said Cooper.
Alexander is doubtful a recession is in the offing, although political headwinds could trigger a downturn.
“I continue to believe the most likely outcome is continued growth but at a very modest pace. When you are growing at a very slow rate it’s as if your immune system is run down and it makes you more vulnerable to any shocks that come around,” said Alexander. “Unfortunately, all of the big shocks that could create that recession are political in nature.”
The results were derived from a random survey of 1,633 Canadians aged 18 or older, conducted from May 31 to June 2. Forum Research states that the results have a 3 per cent margin of error.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019