I got a job, and other stories from the Great Recession

Things weren’t good for job seekers in October, as Stats Canada announced that more jobs were lost in October than in any other month since February 2009 (when the country was still in a recession). Seriously though, it was bad. 54,000 jobs lost in total. The details themselves are even more depressing, because 71,000 full-time positions were lost, and the only thing that offset those losses were new part-time jobs. Most of the losses were in manufacturing and construction, which predictably puts the epicentre of cuts in Ontario – 39,000 losses there alone. [Regina Leader-Post]

Against these odds, I got a job offer in October. I start Monday. It’s a great position at a really savvy e-commerce company, and I expect to learn a hell of a lot. I am super lucky, and can’t wait to show my new employer that they made the right choice in hiring me, because it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was running out of contacts, savings, and hope. I get the sense that most new university graduates face similar predicaments.

The lucky job offer came after two months in Halifax. I have a folder full of bespoke cover letters to show for those months, and my resume is probably into its tenth iteration. I had it better than friends in London, Ontario: my girlfriend knows an Ivey HBA grad who has had to take work at a fitness club. I probably don’t have it as easy as people back in Saskatchewan, where the unemployment rate is 3.7%.

There is nothing so spirit-destroying as sitting, hemorrhaging willpower and brainpower, doing nothing, being unemployed. So where can we put the blame? A lot of commentators call us an entitled generation. Probably fair. But if we expect fulfillment in our working lives, then when we actually work hard for it, you couldn’t fault us for being disappointed. And then there’s the idea that we’ve been learning the wrong stuff to succeed. If I’ve been wronged by my B.A. Hons in Philosophy, then I think I’ve made up for it with hands-on summer jobs in environmental policy and online marketing.

I think it’s pretty disappointing when people blame the unemployed, be they recent grads or mid-career folks who’ve been laid off. I think the real culprit is Canada’s too-close relationship with the US, whose stuttering economic recovery leaves us idling up here. Remember the 39,000 jobs lost in Ontario? How they were disproportionately manufacturing jobs?

At least we’re not in the States, where B.A. grads have had their wages stagnate for the past decade [Yglesias]. I’ve been unable to find similar stats here, but I imagine it’s bad – and recessions don’t affect everyone the same [CCPA]. Time will tell what things are like here in Nova Scotia.


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