|Unemployment isn't working!|
Official unemployment figures for January and February showed tiny improvements, but 1.4 million Canadians are still out of work nearly four years after the economic shock of 2008. Statistics Canada says that 7.2% of the Canadian workforce are jobless and actively seeking employment, down slightly from the rates from 2011; however, this does not account for hundreds of thousands who have dropped out of the workforce, unable to find employment, or many more stuck working a few hours a week in part-time, casual, low-paid, dead-end jobs.
On the other hand, operating profits at Canadian corporations increased to $71.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2011, up 9% from the previous quarter, says Statistics Canada. In total, profits for the year 2011 hit $264.8 billion, recovering to almost the historic peak reached during the pre-recession period.
Corporations in 15 of the 22 industry groups tracked by StatsCan reported higher profits in the fourth quarter of 2011. The profits at financial firms increased 21.8 per cent to $17.9 billion for the 4th quarter, led by insurance companies which racked up just over $1.9 billion. Remember that next time you look at the monthly insurance payments on your bank statement.
Profits in manufacturing industries led the profit parade in the non‑financial sector in the fourth quarter, increasing 19.9% to $14.2 billion. During the entire twelve months of 2011, manufacturing corporations raked in $49.5 billion - just when many people wondered if this sector still exists in Canada!
Looking at the oil and gas sector, the BFFs ("best friends forever") of the Harper Tories, operating profits for 2011 surpassed $16.1 billion, including a tidy sum of $4.4 billion during the final three months of the year. Note that "petroleum and coal products manufacturers" are placed in a separate category by StatsCanada, which reports that corporations in this sector took in over $11 billion for the year.
Summing up, 2011 was a great year for the bosses, whether they own corporations engaged in digging up our natural resources, transforming these into commodities, or keeping track of all the wealth created by workers. But for the vast majority of the population, it was not so great. Just another year of the capitalist rule: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.