Historically low unemployment rate, significant wage increases and employment rate higher than ever – the job market is stable and vigorous in Quebec, according to the BMO-IDQ index. But the challenges of an ageing population and technological change are worrying.
All is well in the best of worlds, you might think. Seen from purely economic parameters, the job situation in Quebec has never been as enviable. The Institut du Québec, in collaboration with BMO, states that “the number of well-paying jobs and the purchasing power of workers has increased in Quebec in recent years.” The unemployment rate, which fell below 6% in 2018, has never been lower since 1976. Logically, the employment rate of those 25 to 54 years old also reached a new historic peak in 2018, standing at 84.6%.
“Although we can finally see an increase in the number of jobs offering salaries exceeding $25 an hour, it should be noted that this increase will only have allowed Quebec to catch up with Ontario,” the study notes, however. Its authors also wonder if the economic situation is only temporary – Quebec is not performing as well as its neighbours in terms of workforce competitiveness. The situation merits watching closely. Like the ageing of the population, it is resulting in a shortage of labour that can only get worse.
The robotization of certain tasks, a movement already well underway, may partly remedy the problems caused by the shortage, but its downside could be to massively increase the number of unemployed people in certain sectors. It will be necessary to consider how to support these workers in their career reorientations.
Inclusion and diversity
It’s clear in 2020 that quality employment is not only measured by a good salary and good conditions. The BMO-IDQ index therefore takes into account “the inclusion of groups under-represented in employment, and certain determinants of the sustainability of a quality labour market in the longer term, such as the well-being of workers and income inequalities.” Here again there is good news: it appears that job integration by young people, immigrants and women is improving.
“Quebec stands out favourably internationally with regard to the participation of women in the labour market, and more specifically, mothers,” the index states.
But there is more work to be done in terms of “integration of newly arrived immigrants (five years and less) and the retention of experienced workers (60 years and older)”. Not enough to sit too comfortably on our laurels.