NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Measuring Labor Markets in Canada and the United States

September 15, 2011

Labor markets are one of the most important components of an economy.  They are the mechanism through which we allocate one of our most valuable and productive resources: human work, effort, creativity and ingenuity.  Labor markets match human skills, supplied by individuals seeking to earn a living, with the demand for labor by firms, governments and households, says the Fraser Institute.

"Measuring Labor Markets in Canada and the United States: 2011 Edition" is the seventh installment in the Fraser Institute's ongoing research to assess the performance of labor markets and explain why results differ among jurisdictions.  Indicators of labor performance such as job creation, unemployment and productivity are used to assess Canadian provincial and U.S. state labor market performance.

Key Results:

  • Alberta topped the list of Canadian provinces and U.S. states for labor market performance over the last five years.
  • The U.S. states in the West and the Midwest dominated the top of the rankings: three states from the West -- Alaska, Utah and Wyoming -- and two from the Midwest -- North Dakota and South Dakota -- were among the top
  • Michigan scored the lowest of any jurisdiction.
  • The lowest-ranked Canadian province was Prince Edward Island, occupying the 36th position.
  • Regionally, the western Canadian provinces out-performed the other provinces.

Within the United States, the Western states performed well: three of which were among the top 10.  On the other hand, four of the Midwestern states (Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan) were among the bottom 12 jurisdictions (three states were tied for the 49th place), as were six Southern states (Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi), one state from the Northeast region (Rhode Island) and one state from the West (California).

Source: Amela Karabegović, Alex Gainer and Niels Veldhuis, "Measuring Labor Markets in Canada and the United States," Fraser Institute, September 2011.


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