The ins and outs of unemployment in Canada, 1976–2008


  • The author is also affiliated with the Department of Management, University of Toronto Scarborough. I thank two anonymous referees and Morley Gunderson for helpful comments and discussions on this version of the paper and Steve Jones on an earlier version of this paper. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network (CLSRN). Email:


Abstract This paper studies the flows into and out of unemployment in Canada at an aggregate and a number of disaggregated levels. I find that inflows into unemployment are countercyclical and outflows are procyclical. At an aggregate level, changes in the rate at which individuals leave unemployment account for most of the changes in unemployment rates in Canada between 1976 and 2008. However, flows into unemployment matter more at some disaggregated levels. There are also some differences in the contributions of flows into and out of unemployment to changes in unemployment rates across the 1981–82 and 1990–92 recessions.


Ce texte étudie les entrées et sorties du chômage au Canada au niveau agrégé et à un certain nombre de niveaux de désagrégation. On découvre que les entrées en chômage sont contre-cycliques et les sorties pro-cycliques. Au niveau agrégé, les changements dans le taux de sorties du chômage expliquent le gros des changements dans les taux de chômage au Canada entre 1976 et 2008. Cependant, les flux à l’entrée sont plus importants à certains niveaux de désagrégation. On note aussi des différences dans la contribution des flux à l’entrée et à la sortie du chômage aux changements dans les taux de chômage au cours des récessions de 1981–82 et de 1990–92.