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Have you seen viral videos of long lineups of people looking for work?


Videos and pictures of hundreds of people lined up outside businesses in Ontario in efforts to land jobs have gone viral on social media.

The videos, taken in Waterloo region and other cities, include ones on the social media platform Reddit, where users reported seeing lineups at a Dollar Tree in Windsor in October and a Food Basics in Hamilton in August. Many comments under the posts speculate whether there’s a dire shortage of jobs.

But Mikal Skuterud, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and director of the Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), said that’s not the case.

“It’s just noise,” he said while analyzing the latest unemployment numbers from Statistics Canada.

The federal agency’s most recent data on unemployment, from November, shows the unemployment rate for the Kitchener-Waterloo region last month was at 6.1 per cent.

Ever since the rule changed for the [international] students, they are eligible to work full time … and the number of applicants has gone crazy– Manu Bahl, co-owner of an employment agency in Kitchener

That’s slightly higher than October, when it was at 5.7 per cent. And October’s rate is higher than the unemployment rate for September, which was recorded at 5.3 per cent.

“The statistical precision of these estimates is they’re going to bounce around just because there aren’t a lot of folks being sampled in any given month,” Skuterud said.

“Depending on who by random chance are the folks who get sampled in one month, you might get more unemployed people, and in the next month, just by random chance, you get fewer. I would not look at these data and say that there’s any evidence that unemployment rates are increasing in K-W. I don’t see that in this data.”

people in line
Social media users have been posting pictures and videos like this of people seen waiting in long lines for work in Kitchener. (u/Anarcho-Warlord on Reddit)

Skuterud said there has actually been a dramatic decline in job vacancies.

“Imagine you’re running a business and you’re selling a good in a market, a product market, whatever it is that good sells for a price,” he said.

“If you’re running a business and you notice suddenly that the price you can charge for the good is increasing really quickly relative to the wage, then you are potentially making more money … If you were using machines and technology to produce with, now you want to rely more on labour [because] it’s cheap relative to everything else.”

He said that’s quickly turning around as the cost of labour catches up with the inflated price of goods and services.

‘Everything in the resumé is a lie’

Vanessa Gale and Manu Bahl are co-owners of New World Momentum, an employment agency in Kitchener.

They said more than 2,500 of the applications they received this year were from international students, making up about 90 per cent of all the applications they’re processing.

“There’s so many people saying they’re going months and months, like some people up to six months,…



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