Vol 4, Issue 5, April 29, 2021
Hamilton's Labour Market Connection
Your weekly news & updates from WPH!
In this week's edition: Changing the narrative around low-skilled workers; Preparing for jobs that don't exist, yet; Labour Market Update - March; Hamilton Labour Force Information March 2021
Changing the Narrative About "Low-Skilled Workers"
The label flattens workers to a single attribute, ignoring the capacities they have and devaluing the work they do. Academics do use the term low-skill with precision, to measure changes in employment and pay and to compare different countries’ workforces.

The terms low-skill worker and low-skill job are conflated, for one, though those are very different charges. For individual workers, the problem, if any, is often not that they lack skills in general, but that they lack specific capacities or qualifications.

Many of these are difficult, physically and emotionally taxing jobs that, in fact, require employees to develop extraordinary skills, if not ones you learn at medical school or MIT. A great deal of skill is necessary to wash a lunch rush’s worth of dishes. A great deal of skill is required to change the clothes of an immobilized senior who might not want to have her clothes changed, or to wrangle a class of toddlers, or to clean up an overgrown yard at breakneck pace, or to handle five tables of drunk guys who want their wings yesterday. 

The pandemic has helped us recategorize many “low-skill” jobs as “essential” jobs—jobs integral to the functioning of the economy, but whose importance so often does not translate into fair pay and good benefits. 

Preparing For Jobs That Don't Exist....Yet!
The jury is out on how many jobs will be lost (The World Economic Forum suggests 85 million) and new ones created (97 million,) but all experts agree that a high percentage of roles that will exist in 2030, do not exist at the moment. Obsolete jobs could also be replaced by new ones that may also require more sophisticated tech skills. 

The World Economic Forum Skills for 2025, show 8 out of 10 top skills are the new "power" skills, that is soft skills. 50% of the global workforce will need re-skilling by 2025, even those who stay in their current jobs.

Hamilton's Labour Market Update: March 2021
The data included here is before Hamilton and Ontario entered it’s third lockdown, and as we can see Hamilton’s labour market conditions improved steadily in March, with the unemployment rate reaching its lowest point since the pandemic started to 6.4%. It is only 1.5 percentage points above the pre-pandemic rate. This rate is lower than the Ontario figure which is at 7.5%.

In March Hamilton saw an increase of 6,500 jobs bringing us closer to the pre-pandemic employment level with 98% of jobs being recovered. This percent is similar to Ontario, as 98% of jobs have recovered across Ontario too. 

Top Growing Industries – Month over Month Change
Information, culture and recreation                   +3,500 jobs
Educational services                                              + 3,000
Professional, scientific and technical services   +2,500
Top Declining Industries - Month over Month Change
Construction                                                            -5,000 jobs
Wholesale and retail trade                                    -3,500
Public administration                                             -2,100

The Information, culture and recreation industry saw the most job gains from the previous month, growing by 3,500 jobs. Construction saw the most job losses in March from the previous month, decreasing by 5,000 jobs. This sector saw good job growth during the pandemic but has slowed recently and with the ensuing lockdowns it likely will decline further.

Please note: Hamilton data is a three-month moving average while Ontario data is monthly seasonally adjusted data. This may explain some of the discrepancy between the two figures. Local data is determined this way to smooth out any monthly numbers which can be quite variable. The overall trends are still valid. 
Hamilton Labour Force Information:
February 2021

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