Unemployment in Canada after recessions: the 1920s versus the 2000s

While doing research on other issues, I found an easily compilable dataset of unemployment rates for trades on a monthly basis in Canada with provincial breakdowns. This gave me the idea to see how the different regions of Canada dealt with recessions with regards to unemployment.

The graph below is a very simple coefficient of variation of unemployment rates across provinces. They represent the months of December 1918 to December 1924 (in red) and the months of December 2007 to December 2013 (in blue). The data for the 1920s is of lesser quality than the data for the late 2000s and early 2010s, but still it gives a good idea of how recessions are “shared” in Canada.  In the 1920s, we can clearly see that the recession was felt more deeply in some regions than others. This is less the case in our days. However, the 1920s recession  was one where aggregate supply shocks provided a strong explanation (see here). Still, the difference is marked and it indicates that recessions in Canada are now more “well shared” than was the case in the 1920s.  It indicates also the provincial economies of Canada are now better integrated than was the case in the 1920s (this is a topic of debate in the literature).


In a few weeks, I will post data comparing the same things but with the 1930s Great Depression.



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