By Philip Cross, March 24, 2021
By some measures, Canada is in a deep “He-cession,” with men losing jobs far faster than women. Between September and January, men lost 340,000 jobs, versus just 193,000 lost by women. The drop was concentrated among men 25 years and over, who lost 247,000 jobs, nearly three times the 85,000 lost by women of the same age.
This data comes from the same Statcan source that has been used to argue that earlier last year Canada was experiencing a “She-cession,” with more women losing jobs than men, which led to calls for government policies targeting women, notably childcare. Should governments now consider policies to help men struggling through a bleak winter of job losses?
Fortunately, no government response is needed, because most differences in employment by gender reflect seasonal changes. Using the correct Statcan data, which eliminate seasonal changes, men only lost 15,000 jobs between September and January, not the 340,000 they lost in the not seasonally adjusted data. Men always see employment decline in the fall and winter, as activity slows in outdoor industries such as mining, forestry, and construction, before rebounding in spring and summer. Women work indoors more, in services industries that are less affected by weather. The greater losses for women than men last summer that were said to reflect a “She-cession” were actually just a normal seasonal phenomenon, as has been the worsening trend for men since September.
Using year-over-year changes to abstract from seasonal fluctuations, in February employment for women fell 1.3 per cent more than for men, with over half of that divergence originating among teenage girls who lost or left jobs three times faster than teenage boys. Adult women over 25 years lost only 14,000 more jobs than men did. In a labour market of 20.2 million people 14,000 does not even meet the threshold of statistical significance.