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Self-Employment Gets a Boost

The Age of the Self-Employed Canadian, it seems, is upon us.

So says Statistics Canada, whose latest raft of research points out that a massive chunk of the new jobs being created in this country are on the backs of individuals who’ve determined that busting out on their own is the only way they’re going to make an income in this place.

Ultimately, it’s a bit of a bad-news/good-news piece, this.Image

On the one hand, it’s heartening to learn that Canada’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.1 to 6.9 percent in September. It’s reassuring, too, to hear that some 245,000 jobs were added to the Canadian economy as of August over the same date a year earlier.

But parse the numbers a little and understand that a celebration over this development might be a little unfounded.

Because, while the contingent of private-sector workers increased by 1.5 percent in the past year, the number of self-employed individuals grew by a whopping 3.6 percent in the same period. (The public sector, meanwhile, contracted by 0.4 percent.) Between August 2012 and August 2013, a full 40 percent of new jobs created in this country — some 95,600 positions — were self-initiated.

And so the good news — that Canadians are self-starters and, moreover, that their entrepreneurial bursts can bloom into robust job-creation machines that hold genuine promise for improving the employment scene for others — is tempered by an increasing understanding that traditional employers are increasingly reluctant to take on new permanent hires inside a still wobbly economy. And so the folks with jobs are also the folks sweating concerns about meeting payroll and financing retirement and paying for a visit to the dentist.

“In an uncertain world,” Tiff Macklem, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, told the media last week, “firms need to see demand pick up before they will commit.”

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