Energy and mining: employment lean and dirty

Now do not get me wrong I am all for job growth especially good jobs that pay above average salaries but is Canada’s current hegemonic accumulation strategy (HAS) of a resource hinterland with a financial hub really the way forward? In the graph below I plot the employment intensity (or employment richness) of the major sectors of the Canadian economy.

Notice that Mining, Energy production, and power and water supply are the least employment intense of the major sectors. For example mining and energy production taken together accounted for nearly 19% of total value added (VA) in the Canadian economy but only a paltry .16% of employment in 2005. In case you are wondering the economy wide average ratio *including* these sectors is 1 %VA = .8 % employment. Exclude these sectors and the economy wide ratio would be even closer to parity.

However there are significant reasons outside of employment to doubt the current HAS. As Marc Lee points out in a recently published paper by the CCPA co written with Ken Carlaw, an economist at UBC-Okanagan, called Climate Justice, Green Jobs and Sustainable Production in BC, not only are mining and energy anaemic job creating sectors they are among the most environmentally unsustainable.

For a brief on Marc and Ken’s paper click here

UPDATE: Tom Walker has pointed out that perhaps the whole conversation on unemployment and the environment should probably shift to an adult conversation on work time reduction. I agree. See the comments section at the link to Marc’s post above.