Alberta boasts best labour market in North America; Western provinces lead while Ontario and Quebec fall behind

    VANCOUVER, Aug. 30 /CNW/ - Alberta has enjoyed the best performing labour
market among the 10 Canadian provinces and 50 US states over the past five
years, according to a new study released today by independent research
organization The Fraser Institute.
    Saskatchewan was the second-best performing province, finishing 10th
among the 60 jurisdictions. B.C. was the third best province at 12th overall.
    "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.
    Western U.S. states dominated the top-10 positions with six states
(Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Alaska, Idaho, and Wyoming) in the top ten.
    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
    "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."
    Ontario and Quebec, Canada's most populous provinces, ranked 21st and
41st respectively.
    "Ontario's ranking is notable only for being so average. Of particular
concern is Ontario's relatively low rate of private sector job growth and
relatively high unemployment," Veldhuis said.
    "Quebec has experienced the second-worst performing labour market in
Canada over the past five years. High unemployment, lengthy spells of
unemployment and low worker productivity continue to plague the province."
    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.
    "Atlantic provinces continue to experience the highest unemployment rates
in North America," Veldhuis said.
    "Newfoundland's average unemployment rate was a staggering 15.8 per cent,
more than double the Canadian average and three times that of Alberta over the
five-year period."
    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.
    "Canadian provinces would be well advised to pursue balanced and less
prescriptive labour laws," Veldhuis said.
    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.
    Additionally, all provinces, with the exception of Alberta, maintain
relatively high minimum wages which have been proven to reduce employment and
on-the-job training.
    "Efforts should also be made to reduce public sector employment and
minimum wages to improve the functioning of our labour markets," Veldhuis 


    A table showing the summary of provincial rankings.

                     Summary of Provincial Rankings, 2007
                               Average         Average
          Index of Labour       Total          Private          Average
               Market         Employment      Employment      Unemployment
            Performance,        Growth,         Growth,           Rates,
                2007           2002-2006       2002-2006        2002-2006
                     US/              US/              US/             US/
           Score   Canada           Canada           Canada          Canada
           (out     Rank      %      Rank      %      Rank      %     Rank
            of    (out of          (out of          (out of         (out of
            10)      60)              60)              60)             60)
    AB      8.3       1      2.8       4      2.4      10      4.5     14
    SK      6.0      10      1.4      22      2.0      12      5.3     32
    BC      5.9      12      2.7       5      2.7       8      6.9     53
    MB      5.4      20      1.2      28      1.1      36      4.9     24
    ON      5.4      21      1.8      12      1.6      22      6.7     50
    NB      4.8      34      1.5      20      1.8      17      9.8     58
    NS      4.7      38      1.3      26      1.3      30      8.8     57
    PEI     4.7      39      1.5      19      1.8      16     11.2     59
    QC      4.6      41      1.8      13      1.9      14      8.5     56
    NL      4.3      50      1.2      29      1.5      27     15.8     60

      Summary of Provincial Rankings, 2007
              Average          Average
            Duration of    Productivity per
           Unemployment,       worker,
            2002-2006         2002-2006
                     US/                US/
                   Canada    2006     Canada
             %      Rank     CDN$      Rank
                  (out of            (out of
                     60)                60)
    AB      7.7       1     120,398      4
    SK     12.3       9      90,025     18
    BC     16.6      25      80,545     34
    MB     10.7       4      73,595     50
    ON     15.3      16      84,426     27
    NB     12.3       8      69,714     56
    NS     13.0      11      71,559     51
    PEI     9.2       2      61,960     60
    QC     19.0      42      74,374     48
    NL     17.0      31     113,388      6

    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

For further information:

For further information: Niels Veldhuis, Director of Fiscal Studies, The
Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4546, Email:; Jason
Clemens, Resident Scholar in Fiscal Studies, The Fraser Institute, Tel. (604)
714-4544, Email:; Dean Pelkey, Director of
Communications, The Fraser Institute, Tel: (604) 714-4582, Email

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