Last month, the London Free Press finalized a three-part series on employment. Here is a quick overview. To see the full articles, follow the links on the title of each part.
From the beginning, we get an idea of how big the problem is. There are fewer people employed in this city than prior to the last recession more than a decade ago. London region’s employment rate sat at the bottom of a list of 33 Canadian urban areas in 2018. There were 77,300 working-age Londoners not working in 2018.
The article explores two perspectives to identify the cause(s): the people or the jobs. Including staying longer in school, a mismatch of skills versus job requirements, early retirees, lack of transportation alternatives and the decline of job opportunities in some fields.
Economist Mike Moffatt points out that "You get hit on both ends." We create a poor economy when we have a wave of unemployed people that in turn will reduce tax revenue and money spent in the local economy.
As Rafael Gomez, a University of Toronto professor points out "the most resilient economies are those built around local needs, which naturally creates a competitive mix of industries...Once an industry or a job leaves, it’s hard to find an inward investment that will return."
The second part paints the big picture with the overall trends and major events in recent decades, interwoven with six real-life stories that help better understand the impacts on people and how employment needs to be addressed from a holistic approach that takes into account education & training, transportation systems, family support, immigration policies, social assistance, employers, physical/mental health, and labour market regulations.
In the final part, Sue Wilson, co-chair of the London Poverty Research Centre and Don Kerr, a researcher at King’s University College who studies labour force trends (see some publications on our Reports/Papers section) were part of panel that also included Carol Stewart (Employment Sector Council) and Amanda Wilcox (community support worker and low-income Londoner). They discussed challenges (rising homeless population, the pressure of the global extractive economy, automation & technology, climate emergency) as well as possibilities (government/employers/universities partnerships, living wages promotion, investments in innovation).
We would like to thanks the London Free Press for bringing this discussion to a wider audience.