Alberta boasts best labour market in North America; Saskatchewan and British Columbia outperform other provinces



    VANCOUVER, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - Alberta has the top performing labour market
in North America which combined with the performance of Saskatchewan and BC,
gives the Western provinces the strongest labour market in the country,
according to a new study released by independent research organization The
Fraser Institute.
    "Workers in Western Canada are enjoying the benefits of a healthy labour
market, an indication of their strong economies," said Niels Veldhuis,
co-author of the study and Director of Fiscal Studies at The Fraser Institute.
    The peer-reviewed study, Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the
United States: 2007 Edition, assesses the performance of labour markets and
examines characteristics which impact performance. The study includes an
overall measure of labour market performance that includes employment growth,
unemployment rates, duration of unemployment and labour productivity over the
years 2002-2006. The complete study and rankings are available at
www.fraserinstitute.ca
    "The ultimate goal of a well-functioning labour market is higher wages
for workers, more employment opportunities, lower unemployment and higher
levels of productivity," Veldhuis said.
    "Alberta's impressive overall showing is the result of relatively strong
performance across all measures."
    Saskatchewan was the second-best performing province, finishing 10th
among the 60 jurisdictions. B.C. was the third best province at 12th overall.
    Western U.S. states dominated the top-10 positions with six states
(Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Alaska, Idaho, and Wyoming) in the top ten.
    Ontario and Quebec, Canada's most populous provinces, ranked 21st and
41st respectively.
    Canada's Atlantic provinces all ranked in the bottom half on labour
market performance. High average unemployment rates are of particular concern
in Atlantic Canada.
    The study also examines four aspects of labour markets that directly
affect labour market performance: unionization, public sector employment,
minimum wages, and labour relations laws.
    The divide between Canada and the United States is quite evident in
unionization. From 2002-2006, Canada's average unionization rate was 32 per
cent compared with 13.9 per cent for the United States.
    "Higher unionization rates have been shown to reduce employment and
investment growth, and worker productivity," Veldhuis points out.
    One reason for the divergence in unionization rates is Canada's
relatively pro-union labour relation laws. Evidence shows that labour
relations laws biasing one group at the expense of another, or which are
overly prescriptive, reduce labour market performance.
    Veldhuis also noted that Canadian provinces fare poorly on levels of
public sector employment, which has been demonstrated to lead to poorer
economic performance and lower levels of productivity.
    "The ultimate goal of a well-functioning labour market is higher wages
for workers, more employment opportunities, lower unemployment and higher
levels of productivity," Veldhuis said.

    The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational
organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and
communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on
the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does
not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit
www.fraserinstitute.ca





For further information:

For further information: Niels Veldhuis, Director of Fiscal Studies, The
Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4546, Email: nielsv@fraserinstitute.ca; Dean
Pelkey, Director of Communications, The Fraser Institute, Tel: (604) 714-4582,
Email deanp@fraserinstitute.ca

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THE FRASER INSTITUTE

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