12/11/2019 11:53 EST | Updated 12/11/2019 16:15 EST

Trump White House Jabbed Trudeau Over Canada's Job Losses, But Facts Aren't On Their Side

And if Canada's job market does tank, it will be partly you-know-who's fault.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the NATO summit in Watford, U.K. on Dec. 4, 2019. Trudeau has Trump beat when it comes to job growth on their watch, an analysis from Scotiabank finds.

True to form, members of U.S. Trump administration ― along with the president’s son ― taunted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this past weekend about Canada’s loss of more than 71,000 jobs in the month of November.

No doubt, that was an ugly jobs report; in fact, it was the worst performance Canada’s job market has put in since the Great Recession a decade ago. But what Trump doesn’t mention is that it comes on the heels of several years’ worth of very solid job growth in Canada ― so solid that we are now coping with a chronic labour shortage.

Watch: All the ways Canadians and Americans are now very different, when it comes to finances. Story continues below.


So what about the U.S.?

“Trump is just an average president by comparison to cumulative job growth during the terms of past U.S. presidents, to a comparable point in their terms,” wrote Derek Holt, vice-president and head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, in a client note this week.

U.S. presidents compared on percentage job growth.

In a similar comparison of prime ministers ahead of this year’s election, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found Trudeau, likewise, just comes off as average in terms of job creation.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Job creation, as a percentage, under seven prime ministers.

All the same, when Holt compared job growth numbers in both countries since the U.S. election in November 2016, he found that “Canada has created more jobs than the U.S. in proportionate terms.”

There are a variety of surveys that measure the job market and they don’t always agree, so Holt compared three common measures used in the U.S. to three similar (but not identical) measures in Canada.

“By all three measures of job growth, Canada wins hands down with the strongest pace of cumulative job growth,” Holt concluded.

In the chart on the left, Scotiabank compares three different measures of job growth in the U.S. with three measures in Canada, and finds that Canada, proportionally, has created more jobs. Wage growth has been stronger in Canada in the past year.

If Canada had the same population as the U.S., it would have created between 7.8 million and 8.5 million jobs since the U.S. election, compared to the U.S.’s growth of between 6.6 million and 7 million, depending on the measure used.

Holt noted that wage growth in Canada has been stronger than in the U.S. for the past year or so, and the labour force participation rate (the share of people with a job) is higher in Canada. (It’s falling in both countries due to Baby Boomers leaving the workforce as they age.)

All the same, the sharp loss of jobs in November, combined with some other weak readings on Canada’s economy, such as soft exports and weak retail sales, “should not be dismissed,” Holt wrote.

These problems “owe themselves significantly to the turmoil brought upon the world economy by the U.S. administration’s isolationism and protectionist policies,” Holt wrote.

So if Canada’s job market does tank, we know who can take a good chunk of the blame.

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