Does Obsession with Leadership Skills Favour Fake Leaders?

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Laozi, Chinese Philosopher.

People who are too pre-occupied with themselves  make lousy  leaders: They have a hard time motivating and inspiring others because they are  unwilling to acknowledge others’ efforts and accomplishments. History shows that,  when such people do manage to raise to leadership roles,  they  tend to be authoritarian, cause a great deal of damage, and are hostile to criticism.

For this reason, I believe that claiming to be a strong leader (and implicitly claiming credit for the successes of your whole team) is the best way to demonstrate that you aren’t one. So it seems counter-intuitive to me that boasting about one’s own strong leadership skills may help one’s career.

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Which are Canada’s Best Paying Professional Jobs in 2016?

I strongly believe that people looking to pursue a new career are best advised to choose one that they find interesting and stimulating. The reason is simple: In their productive years, most people spend 1,800+ hours at work (not including commuting time). If you spend that much time doing something you don’t like, this is guaranteed to make you unproductive, miserable, and unhealthy.

Yet it is obvious that earnings can impact significantly our well-being and job satisfaction too. When doing what we love comes at a cost of financial hardship to us and our families, this is also likely to make us unproductive and miserable (and eventually kill the passion for your selected occupation). The ever increasing cost of post-secondary education also makes it mandatory for most people to do a simple cost-benefits calculation before pursuing an education in their selected field (and often taking on student debt).

So we analyzed all job postings indicating a salary, advertised online by employers in Ontario and BC in the first 5 months of 2016. We removed managerial jobs from our analysis as the pay rates for those can vary significantly. We also removed odd / unusual jobs with where less than 10 positions (indicating a pay rate) were advertised.

Here are the 5 best paying professional occupations that we arrived to, along with the average hourly wage for each of them (in cases where hourly wages were provided, we assumed 1,920 work hours per year):

  1. Doctors (General Medical Practitioners, Family Physicians, and Specialist Physicians): $273,561 per year
  2. Lawyers and Notaries: $118,650 per year
  3. Information System Architects: $104,870 per year
  4. Software Engineers and Designers: $86,995 per year
  5. Pharmacists: $85,920 per year

Most people will not be surprised to learn that doctors, lawyers, and software engineers get paid well. We have all heard about the chronic shortage of doctors across Canada. And, getting the education needed to become a doctor or a lawyer takes longer and costs more than most other occupations. Yet I find several things quite interesting. For example, I was somewhat surprised by the pay gap between the top paying occupation (Doctors) and the second best paying one (Lawyers and Notaries): Doctors make more than double as much as lawyers.

Also, while this is not obvious from the consolidated numbers above, there are significant regional variances in the income outside of the healthcare sector. While doctors and pharmacists in BC get paid about the same as in Ontario, Ontario’s employers pay between 10% and 20% more to Lawyers and Software Engineers.

Finally, it is worth noting that there may be well paying occupations that are rarely advertised online (for example, dentists). There were also high paying sales occupations advertised online (especially for real estate agents and sales persons) but we removed them from our analysis, because the pay that they offer is mostly commission-based, and therefore highly variable (and difficult to compare with salaried occupations).

Do Minimum Wage Increases Kill Jobs? Look at the Evidence and Judge for Yourself

When it comes to raising minimum wages, the argument of those opposed to the raises is most often that higher minimum wages kill jobs. The argument is straight-forward and makes sense: A higher minimum wage increases the cost of doing business for those employers who hire in minimum wage positions, pushing some of them out of business. A higher minimum wage also makes it less attractive for businesses to hire in minimum wage positions. If this is true, this should  mean that higher minimum wages  result in higher unemployment rate,  everything else being equal.

Statistics Canada just issued a study today (July 16, 2014)  titled “ The ups and downs of minimum wage, 1975  to  2013” where they have collected the historic minimum wage rates, which they have  adjusted for inflation. The data in this study (along with   Statistics Canada’s  unemployment rate statistics since 1976)  makes it possible to  compare unemployment trends  and minimum wage trends over the past 3 decades. So we did just that and produced the chart below overlaying the two data sets.

So does higher minimum wage kill jobs? Does a  lower minimum wage  encourage employers to create more jobs?  Look at the evidence and decide for yourself.

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Canada’s Job Market Improved Slightly in March

Statistics Canada’s report for March 2014 is out. It registered a slight improvement in the job market situation in March, but points out that employment growth in Canada has been subdued for the last 6 months. Overall, in the 3 months before March, Canada’s labour market performance has been somewhat disappointing, so the fact that the economy created 43,000 new jobs in March is good news. Are things starting to turn around?

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46,000 Jobs Lost in December: An Anomaly or the Beginning of a Trend?

written by Strac Ivanov, MBA, President of Vicinity Jobs Inc

The media buzz created by Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Market was hardly comforting. The economy lost 46,000 jobs in December and unemployment crept up 0.3 percentage points to 7.2% — making December one of 2013’s highest unemployment months (on par with March and April). In fact, it now seems that unemployment has hardly budged ever since reaching its current levels back in November 2012. Economists agree that Canada`s economy is not firing on all cylinders, so there should be room for the economy to grow faster, which should in turn result in employers hiring more and laying off less. The fact that this isn’t happening is a cause for concern.

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Employment Remained Steady in October but Job Quality May Have Declined

Written by Strac Ivanov, MBA, President and Co-Founder of Vicinity Jobs Inc

Economically and politically, October 2013 was a tough month, mired in uncertainty. The US government was shut down for more than half of it, as media was discussing the potential consequences of something most considered unimaginable until only a couple of months ago: A default by the US government. All this uncertainty seemed guaranteed to take its toll on the job market in both Canada and the US: Businesses tend to delay hiring when they are uncertain about where the economy is going.

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Is Canada’s Job Market Stuck in Neutral?

At first glance, StatCan’s Labour Market survey from August paints a pretty rosy picture: Canada’s economy created 59,000 new jobs, and unemployment dropped 0.1 percentage point to 7.1%. But a more detailed look reveals some less encouraging details.

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Hiring in Consumer-Driven Sectors Pushed Canada’s Unemployment Down to 7.1% in May

Canada’s employers continued hiring in May. The economy created 95,000 new mostly full-time jobs.And while Canada’s unemployment rate is still 0.1% higher than the 7% reached at the first months of this year, there are more Canadians working now than there have been at any time in the past 5 years.

Continue reading Hiring in Consumer-Driven Sectors Pushed Canada’s Unemployment Down to 7.1% in May

Canada’s Unemployment Unchanged in April As Hiring Demand Recovers

In the late months of 2012, I started warning that the job market growth reported in Statistics Canada’s labour market surveys may be unsustainable. Our own Vicinity Jobs hiring demand research, which analyzes online job postings, showed that the numbers of new jobs advertised had fallen to levels we had not seen in years. I speculated that employers may be holding back layoffs rather than creating new jobs.

Then something interesting happened: Canada’s economy lost jobs and unemployment increased in March as I had expected – but at the same time, our own reports showed that hiring demand was starting to pick up. So I suggested that if hiring demand holds up, this may keep unemployment from increasing significantly.

The results of April’s labour market survey (released on Friday, May 10th 2013) suggest that this is now happening. Unemployment remained unchanged after the drop in April, and the economy even regained some 12,500 of the 54,500 it had lost in March. And while, on balance, the number of jobs in Canada has hardly grown since December of last year, there are some signs that better times may lie ahead.

There are two reasons for my cautious optimism regarding the short-term prospects of the job market: The state of the US economy and Canada’s hiring demand levels.

So far, at least, it appears that the US economy has been damaged less than many had feared by the tax increases that took place at the beginning of this year and by the government spending cuts that started in March (the so-called sequester). The US economy`s performance can hardly be described as “stellar”, but the mere fact that it has not gotten into a decline in spite of these drastic measures seems to vindicate those who argued that it is actually in a pretty good shape. This comes with an important caveat though: While the effect of the tax increases should be quite evident by now, the full impact of the sequester is yet to materialize. Most of the affected government agencies are only starting to cut their budgets, and layoffs and procurement changes take time to implement.

Canada’s hiring demand level also remained healthy in April. It did retreat slightly from the March levels, but this is due to seasonal trends (hiring demand is usually weaker in April than in March). Overall, April was the first month of 2013 in which hiring demand caught up with the levels from the same time last year. If this trend continues, unemployment will likely to decline.

So the question now is: Will Canada’s employers continue hiring?

Over the medium-to-long term, Canada’s structural imbalances will prevent strong economic growth. This in turn will keep a lid on hiring demand. Record high household debt (fueled in part by inflated real estate prices) means that Canadians must save more and spend less. We are already seeing the effect on the job and real estate markets, in the form of a softening real estate prices and demand and a decline in the hiring demand from retailers. This trend will continue and will likely accelerate once interest rates start to rise (which is unlikely to occur in the very near future, but cannot be avoided in the medium term).

Another issue is that the long-term prospects for Canada’s largest industry – manufacturing – remain cloudy. Manufacturing actually created 21,000 new jobs in April, but this came after a downward trend that lasted for 9 months. As a result, the number of manufacturing jobs in Canada is still 2.9% lower than it was 1 year ago. Other industries – including the oil and mining – do not have the breadth and growth potential to replace manufacturing as a source of employment and overall wealth. An improvement in the state of the US economy may give a short-term boost to Canada`s manufacturers. But over the long term, Canadian manufacturers need to become more competitive in order to survive. This requires being more productive, which in turn requires businesses to innovate faster. Many studies show that Canadian businesses lack their US counterparts when it comes to innovation. This will not turn around overnight.

On top of that, the international environment may be on a less stable footing than catches the eye. It is easy to forget that the US Federal Reserve (the US central bank) has been running its so-called QE policy for about 4 years now (QE stands for Quantative Easing). The policy involves stimulating the economy by printing and pouring into it large amounts of new money. The measure was originally meant as a short-term emergency measure to unfreeze the credit markets, but there are concerns that the US economy may hay have grown addicted to it (which is one of the reasons why the Federal Reserve has been reluctant to discontinue it). So far QE has not resulted in inflation, but economic theory teaches that it might (and likely will) at some point in the future. It is clear that QE must be withdrawn at some point, along with some of the newly printed money. It is not clear how the US economy will react to such “squeeze”. And in spite of many companies reporting record profits, sales revenues have been lagging.

So companies have been cutting cost to achieve their record profits, rather than selling more. As a result, unemployment in the US still remains at unusually high levels by historic standards.

In spite of all this, there is no denying that the economy seems to be weathering the challenges that it faces better than most analysts expected. Whether it will continue to deliver positive surprises remains to be seen.

written by Strac Ivanov, M.B.A., President of Vicinity Jobs Inc