This article reports that part-time employment in Canada is on the rise, while full-time jobs are currently in decline. The lesson plan seeks to explore the implications of this trend.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):


Key Questions to Explore:

  • What are leading, coincident and lagging indicators?
  • What sectors in the Canadian economy have suffered the most from job losses? What factors led to this decline?
  • Why is there a disparity between employment gains in oil-producing regions and other provinces?
  • Why does the increase in jobs in the United States signal a potential rise in interest rates in the United States?
  • What are the potential impacts of the rise in part-time work on the Canadian economy?

New Terminology:

  • Leading indicator: a leading indicator signals changes in the business cycle (notably, the approach of turning points that see the economy move into recession or recovery) and periods of faster or slower economic growth.
  • Lagging indicator: a lagging indicator is a measurable economic factor that is assessed only after the economy has begun to follow a particular pattern or trend.
  • Coincident indicator: these indicators occur at approximately the same time as the conditions they signify. They confirm the current state of the economy. Rather than predicting future events, these indicators change at the same time as the economy or stock market. Personal income is a coincidental indicator for the economy: high personal income rates will coincide with a strong economy.
Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

This article concerns only leading and lagging indicators. Some examples:

Leading Indicators

Average work week: workers tend to work longer hours when employers plan on hiring more employees in the future. The decline in average work-week hours from 33.3 hours to 32.9 hours suggests that employers will need fewer workers in the future. The average work week predicts the direction business cycles are heading.

Lagging Indicators

Unemployment rate: unemployment rate is a lagging indicator because it tends to change two to three quarters after a change in the economy occurs. For example, if the Canadian economy begins to expand, it will take two to three quarters before we see a reduction in unemployment rates or an increase in employment gains.

Implications of labour trends

The rise in part-time jobs and the decline in full-time jobs have a negative impact on the otherwise positive job growth numbers released by Statistics Canada because part-time workers work less on average and they are less productive at their jobs than full-time employees.

The report also shows that there were full-time employment declines in manufacturing and natural resources while there were employment increases in construction, wholesale, retail trade and education. This has occurred mainly due to the decreases in price and production of oil. This explains why there were job losses in oil-producing Newfoundland and Labrador.

Finally, the article implies that the U.S. Federal Reserve Board might be motivated to raise interest rates due to positive job gains. This is more likely because the positive job gain signals that the U.S. economy is on the right path towards full recovery. As a result, interest rates will be increased to prevent inflation from rising beyond desired levels.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask students to state the sectors which have suffered job losses.
  • Ask them to state the reasons behind these job losses.
  • Ask students to explain why Ontario and British Columbia have seen job increases but oil-producing regions like Newfoundland and Labrador have suffered job losses
  • Ask students to state the broader implications of the rise in part-time jobs on the economy.
  • Tell your students that job gains in the United States increased expectations that interest rates will rise. Ask them to explain the rationale behind this expectation.
  • Ask your students to state the impact higher interest rates will have on the American Economy.
  • Tell your students that the Bank of Canada has held the Canadian interest rate steady at 0.5% since 2015. Ask your students to suggest reasons why the bank is unlikely to raise interest rates in the short term, given the current labour force survey.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Ask students to state what impact the rise of part-time jobs might have on their employment prospects in the future.
  • Ask what they plan to do to secure full-time jobs after graduating from college or university
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • By the end of this article students should be aware of trends in the labour market.

Confirming Activity:

  • Ask your students to explain why job gains (lagging indicators) in the United States affect the U.S. Federal Reserve Board’s decision on whether or when to raise interest rates.