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Politics

London task force declares jobs crisis in the city

London's Jobs Now task force says the city is facing a jobs crisis.
London's Jobs Now task force says the city is facing a jobs crisis. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL File

A London task force has declared the city is facing a jobs crisis.

According to the task force, the crisis lies not in a lack of jobs but rather in a struggle to fill vacant positions.

The declaration was made in a report released on Wednesday by the London Jobs Now task force, a group established by Mayor Ed Holder in April in an attempt to address the city’s relatively low labour force participation rates.

“What our task force determined — and it’s super, super clear — is that London’s jobseekers and employers who are looking to hire these people just aren’t connecting,” Holder said, adding that the problem is not tied to a regional issue.

“Places like Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Windsor, they enjoy stable and increasing employment rates, but that is not the case in London,” Holder said.

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“We have the most significant and worst not-employed rate in Canada.”

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The report from the London Jobs Now task force stated that another problem lies in the misunderstanding of the city’s current jobs situation.

Task force member and London Chamber of Commerce CEO Gerry Macartney said a city’s job health is often tied to its unemployment rate, however this number does not tell the full story.

“Those are people that are in the workforce and willing to be in the workforce, but there’s a significant number who take themselves out of the workforce and out of availability for the workforce,” Macartney said.

The task force’s reports state that unemployment rates only count the number of unemployed individuals who have looked for a job in the four weeks prior.

The report added that research limitations for unemployment rates leave only a small fraction of the city’s job-seeking unemployed accounted for.

Research limitations for London’s unemployment rate, a report from the London Jobs Now task force states, result in only a small fraction of the city’s job-seeking unemployed being accounted for.
Research limitations for London’s unemployment rate, a report from the London Jobs Now task force states, result in only a small fraction of the city’s job-seeking unemployed being accounted for. London Jobs Now Task Force

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Instead, Macartney suggests a better metric for London’s economic health lies in the city’s participation rate, which refers to the number of people in the entire community who are working. Currently, London’s participation rate sits at a historically low 58 per cent.

“We’re not talking about babies or the infirmed or senior citizens, we’re talking about people in [the working age range] who are not working,” Macartney said.

“That equates to about 78,000 people.”

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The report lists four recommendations to address the jobs crisis, including better transit for south and east industrial areas, developing a sustainable business plan for fill jobs and having the “media hold the city’s feet to the fire for meeting the 13,000 jobs-filled goal.”

The task force’s fourth recommendation involves implementing a centralized online job board for the local region, which is set to go live on Friday. The job board would be similar to a website that went public for the City of Windsor in February.

“The people who are looking for work are going to have to think a little differently and look a little differently as to how they go about seeking successful and sustainable employment,” Macartney said.