Canada's official unemployment rate, currently at 8 per cent, or 1.45 million people, counts only those who are out of work and actively looking for a job. That's R4 in Statistics Canada's parlance; the agency slices and dices the population into various groups to better analyze how strong the labour market is.
R8, the broadest measure of unemployed and underemployed people, includes the officially unemployed as well as discouraged workers who have given up hope of finding a new job, as well as people who are not actively searching for work because they expect to be called back to their old jobs.
Most significantly, R8 includes involuntary part-timers – people who are working part-time but would rather be full time....Lately, the R8 reading has offered a grim perspective on Canadians' job status: 12.4 per cent of people over the age of 15 are now counted as R8 – an increase of 4.4 percentage points since October and the highest point in a decade. In contrast, the official unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) has risen 3.2 percentage points since October.
This gives a broader, and in a way, more correct view of how we're doing. Not well.