The quality of Canada’s new and existing jobs is slipping, concludes CIBC economist Benjamin Tal after calculating the latest Job Quality Index (JQI), which is based on compensation (70% of the index) and job stability. Tal suggests that the JQI is slipping because self-employment is rising (not necessarily a bad thing if it’s encouraging workers into the labour force who had previously outsiders) and/or unskilled workers are being used as substitutes for skilled workers because Canadians lack the right skills.
Perhaps an interesting statistic would be the relative "stickiness" of the JQI over time. To the extent that we can expect bad jobs to replace good jobs more quickly than vice versa, stickiness may be somewhat predictable, depending whether the index is rising or falling. But if the JQI quickly rebounds after falling, and if we know which components caused the JQI to fall, this may be telling.
For example, consider scenario A and B in period of time (t), both of which take the JQI to the same level below JQI (t-1). In scenario A there’s weak compensation due in large part to an increase in self employment spurred by individuals inside and outside of the labour market. There’s also weak stability because an increase in jobs in western Canada draws workers (again, from within and outside of the labour market) west to try on jobs until they find a satisfactory match.
In scenario B the situation is similar, only now the greatest weight pulling down the JQI is unskilled workers being used as substitutes for skilled workers when in actuality they are not substitutes. Again, consider that JQI at B is at par with JQI at A.
Would either scenario have a stickier JQI? The significance has to do with our productivity and our ability to rebound from a recession. In scenario A we have a weakish economy but more people in the labour market. In scenario B we have a weakish economy and evidence of more of a mis-matched, unskilled labour market. If we can agree that we're seeing a mix of scenario A and B, perhaps the [edit: greater ] A is, the less sticky we can expect the JQI to be. To be clearer, studies have shown, for example, that "a lack of employment stability, job skills, and occupation-specific experience can impede welfare recipients’ abilities to obtain “good jobs” or transition into them from bad ones."
On a side note, overall I like CIBC's’s JQI as a raw estimate. It has its weaknesses (no pun intended); for example, it's based only on compensation and job stability. However, it also avoids mistakes made by others (eg, CIBC uses data from 100 separate industries, rather than data from industry aggregates).