The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines recent developments in the Canadian labor market. Using disaggregated labor market data, various hypotheses concerning the slow employment growth and rise in unemployment since 1990 are evaluated. The analysis indicates that a large part of the recent rise in the unemployment rate may reflect an increase in the structural rather than the cyclical component of unemployment. Various sources of labor market rigidities that may have contributed to the increase in structural unemployment are examined. In particular, the role of the unemployment insurance system in contributing to labor market rigidity and measures for reforming this system, including the recent proposals of the government, are discussed. Finally, this paper examines active labor market policies that could help to alleviate structural unemployment.