Where are the jobs? They’re in Canada

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Here in the U.S., stock market investors seem thrilled that the pace of job losses slowed a bit in August. Guess what happened up in Canada? Payroll employment actually increased by 27,000 jobs (0.2%) in August, driven by gains in retail and wholesale trade and in financial services. Canadian economists weren’t falling over themselves in excitement about the report—full-time employment actually decreased for the month, for one thing—but compared to the job picture here, things are looking awfully good North of the Border.

A couple weeks ago Barbara addressed the question of why this is, and came up with the reasonable answer that Canada’s recession has been less severe than ours because its financial system didn’t nearly melt down, and its recovery has been quicker in part because its economy is more closely tied to commodities exports. But I got an e-mail this morning from House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office with the subject line, “New Jobs Numbers Require Dems to Drop Plans for Job-Killing Government Takeover of Health Care, Boehner Says,” and that got me thinking. In Canada, where government took over health care long ago, employers don’t really have to worry about health-care costs when they hire new workers. In the U.S., they worry a lot. Could that explain Canadian employers’ comparative alacrity in switching from firing mode back to hiring?

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