Brendon Bernard on Canada’s labour market

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Brendon Bedard, Senior Economist at Indeed, to talk about the weakening labour market, and what it means. 

What did you make of Canada’s latest jobs report? 

“The defining theme of the labour market lately has been stepping back from this monthly job number — last month, a 40,000 increase in employment — and looking at the utilization of the potential labour force given how fast the population is growing. Historically, 40,000 would have been a high number, but last month, it didn’t even match our population growth.” 

What other takeaways do you have from the report? 

“The unemployment rate, which held steady at 5.5%, is like the bellwether measure, but we’ve also seen a tick-down in the working-age employment rate. We’ve also seen a tick-up in people working part-time for economic reasons, in that they want a full-time job but only get 30 hours a week. So all kind of consistent with signs of the labour market weakening.”

Are Canadian wages continuing to grow, like in the US?

“We have seen real wages — the pace of average pay growth, minus how much inflation is taking out of that growth — bounce back recently. So, we're seeing a bit of a clawback in the loss of purchasing power from 2021 to 2022 when prices spiked. If the pattern continues, maybe people will start to feel a bit better about how far their paychecks are going.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to the full conversation here.