The public sector isn’t just being squeezed on wages, but on jobs too. Since the end of 2012, there’s been no overall increase in public sector employment in Canada. If this trend continues, public sector job growth this year will be the lowest since 2009, and before that the severe job cuts in the 1990s.
Public sector employment increased at an average rate of 2.4 per cent per year from 1999 to 2009. Stimulus spending provided a further spurt of growth in 2010, but since then job growth has slowed, averaging less than half the rate of the previous decade.
Almost two-thirds of public sector workers are women, so the slowdown in public sector jobs has particularly affected them. While men suffered most of the job loss in the recession, they’ve also benefitted from most of the job growth since.
Strong growth in public sector employment through last spring gave way to losses from the summer on, particularly in Newfoundland, Ontario and Alberta. In contrast, Quebec suffered steeper public sector job losses early this year, with numbers rebounding since then, according to Labour Force Survey figures. Health care employment has continued to grow while education, transportation and public administration have declined.