From 2009 the February Unemployment Numbers were quite dismal. Also, bad news about Pension valuations as well. Luckily I got my pension out before Nortel’s went under.
Unemployment Up Again
First, we see that the Labor Force Survey for February is out, and it paints a gloomy picture.
Employment fell for the fourth consecutive month in February (-83,000), bringing total losses since the peak of last October toÂ 295,000Â (-1.7%). The February employment decrease pushed the unemployment rate upÂ 0.5Â percentage points toÂ 7.7%.
Ontario led the way as the biggest job loser, and I was disheartened to see that the biggest group (by age and gender) of losers are males from 25-54 (yes I fit in that range). This isn’t really news to me, given what I hear from former co-workers and what I see in job hunting, but it is still a little depressing.
The biggest hiring area with losses is of course construction, given how tight money has become there is not a lot of money being thrown around for new construction projects.
Another telling commentary is:
Since last October, just over half of the country’s total employment losses have occurred in Ontario, well beyond the province’sÂ 39% share of the total working-age population. Employment in the province fell byÂ 160,000Â during this period, with the largest decreases in manufacturing; business, building and other support services; and construction.
Not a rosey picture for Ontario.
Pensions Lose a lot
The other interesting employment figure last week was the fact that pensions in the private sector shrunk by a significant amount in the last quarter of 2008:
The market value of assets held in employer-sponsored pension funds fell byÂ 8.7% during the third quarter toÂ $869.0Â billion, the largest quarterly decline in a decade.
The decline, equivalent toÂ $82.7Â billion, was the result of a significant drop in stock prices and foreign investments. The third-quarter level was well below the peak ofÂ $954.6Â billion reached at the end ofÂ 2007.
Why is this significant? Well most financial planners will tell you that as you age the less variability should be built into your retirement savings (i.e. you should have less risk in your portfolio) and that usually means holding less in stocks and more in GICs and other safe, slow growth savings entities.
It seems the pension funds are not following this advice, with an aging population there still seems to be a significant investment in the markets by these funds? Now is not the time to be losing significant portions of your funds (i.e. when a lot of folks are about to be drawing on your accounts), but maybe this is just me, and I don’t quite understanding the mathematics of the whole pension business.
With the Baby Boom generation about to hit retirement (or hitting retirement) will they get to retire? I suspect that the concept of “retirement” is going to change in the next 10 years.
Previous Months Unemployment for 2009
- Unemployment Up Sharply to 7.2% in January 2009 the impact of the great meltdown was starting to settle in.
- Bad Unemployment and No Pensions for February 2009 things were very not good back then.
- Unemployment Up Again to 8.0% March 2009 not too surprising really. March was still deep in the heart of the meltdown.
- Unemployment Up a Bit for April 2009 so these are the actual Unemployed count from Stats Canada
- More Folks on EI in April 2009 – a sad time still
- Unemployment Numbers up a Little – The numbers for June 2009
- For July 2009 Unemployment Rate Hovers – is this a plateau? Hard to tell.
- Better Employment Numbers September 2009 – shows that life started to get better as 2009 went on. We hoped.
- Less Employed in October 2009 8.6% Unemployed – OK so our hopes were dashed for a while.
- November 2009 Employment Numbers: A Festivus Miracle! a month early for Festivus, but good news, is good news.
- Nothing New on Jobs Front for December 2009 the year did not end with a bang unfortunately.
The spike in unemployment rate is disturbing. If it gets as bad as the 80’s, I wonder if we’ll hit 10%?
I believe the market has lost about 30% over the last 6 months. If pension plans have only lost 8.7, they have done well. Remember, many of the participants in these pensions have a considerable time until retirement, so a comparison to an individual plan is likely inappropriate.
Retirement has indeed already changed. No longer is 65 a mandatory age for retirement any more; “Freedom 55” is no longer promoted, and more folks see retirement as moving from a scheduled 8 hour work day to a more relaxed pace, at something the individual better enjoys.
Pension funds are typically gigantic investment vehicles, do they take into account the % of ready to retire baby boomers into account when allocating the funds?