September’s labour market verdict is in and early October reactions are mixed.
Overall, Canada’s job creation rate is up, America’s unemployment is down and the near-term economic forecast for both countries is positive.
But upon closer inspection, the 52,100 jobs reported by Statistics Canada — a 53 per cent improvement over August’s results — can’t keep up with the 72,600 Canadians entering last month’s labour force. Growing layoffs add to the plot, especially when counting companies replacing employment casualties among the job creation total.
With data like this encouraging conflicting responses — relief on the one hand, distress on the other — the average job seeker may understandably have mixed feelings. Certainly, these are intriguing results for the job-searching or career-curious student. Their employment implications are also important.
But they’re irrelevant for the average student — regardless of what the job market data says about this group, you can’t do much to change it. Even if you are able to tell whether current stats spells good or bad news for you, the news won’t guarantee you a job or unemployment in the long run.
In fact, any professional’s job search is a day-to-day reality of having less to do with nationwide numbers than specific factors: employment history, education, skill-set, etc.
So rather than worrying about external factors in the job market, focus first on the things you have control over: your current class, job and volunteer roles. Stop procrastinating and write that essay now, for instance, or hit the books and ace tomorrow’s exam.
Expand your interests, develop your skills, read up on the specifics of different career options and so on. Sure, that’s almost a verbatim quote off the Alberta Learning Information Service’s Making Sense of Labour Market Information handbook, but it works. Remember, as self-evident as it seems, your own sense of success is always going to be a better indicator of your success than Stats Canada’s.
That’s not to say data should be ignored altogether — it shouldn’t. Labour market information goes a long way toward helping students take advantage of growing industries and the corresponding demand for specific professions. If you’re lucky enough to be pursuing those professions, these numbers might even indicate the likelihood of your job-searching success two, three or more years down the road.
As always, though, a lot of work stands in between now and then. And experience. And luck, and even more changes in the job market.
So the next time you see the word “rising unemployment” or “job creation” in your local newspaper, don’t panic and certainly don’t rejoice. Take a deep breath, and step away from the stats. Numbers are fascinating stuff, but they aren’t powerful or intelligent enough to make your career decisions for you.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.