Ottawa, ON — Canada has the smallest population of all G8 nations. But it goes into the group’s annual summit in just over two weeks as one of the leaders in terms of economic expansion, employment and the education level of its workers, according to a new study from Statistics Canada.
Although Canada has managed to control rising labour costs over the past decade and add to its competitive edge, its gains in labour productivity have been substantially below those of France, Japan and the United States.
Nevertheless, all in all, the global economic picture indicates that Canada is keeping up with, and in many cases, surpassing its summit partners: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The G8 nations are among the most economically powerful countries in the world. They account for 13% of the world’s population, but 46% of the global economy.
The extent of their economic clout is reflected in the average gross domestic product per capita. Among the G8 nations, average GDP per capita hit $29,700 in 2004, more than five times the average of $5,400 for non-G8 countries.
Despite Canada’s size, it had the third highest gross domestic product per capita in 2004, about US $31,000, third only to the United Kingdom at US $31,100 and the United States at $39,800.
Canada led the G8 nations in economic growth between 2000 and 2004, as its output increased at an annual average rate of 3.1%. In contrast, during the early 1990s, it had one of the lowest rates of economic expansion.
Canada has also fared well in terms of employment rate growth among the working-age population as well as in the educational attainment of this group.
By 2003, Canada had the third highest employment rate (73.3%) for the core working-age population 25 to 64. It followed only the United Kingdom with a rate of 74.2% and Japan at 73.9%. In 1976, Canada was in sixth place.
In 2003, Italy had the largest employment rate difference between the sexes, 27.8 percentage points. The gap in Canada was only 9.7 percentage points, the smallest. This was largely because Canadian women had the highest employment rate of all G8 countries.
Also, in 2002, 43% of Canada’s working-age population aged 25 to 64 had a college diploma or university degree, the highest rate in the G8.
Unemployment rates in the G8 ranged between 3% and 12% from 1993 to 2003. Canada was near the middle of the pack, with a jobless rate of 7.6% in 2003.
However, the average number of work hours was on a downward trend in all countries except Canada, which had an average of 33 hours in both 1993 and 2003.
Export trade plays a key role in Canada’s economy, accounting for one-third of GDP. All G8 members experienced gains in their external trade since 1990. But Canada’s export trade more than tripled during the past decade, the biggest increase among all the nations.