Dans l'industrie du textile, les variations saisonnières et cycliques se font particulièrement sentir au niveau de l'emploi et conséquemment un chômage assez considérable en résulte. L'auteur, avant d'étudier ces problèmes, situe cette industrie dans le cadre général industriel de la Province et cite certains chiffres et faits significatifs; il s'arrête ensuite au chômage proprement dit, à ses causes et conséquences et termine en dégageant quelques conclusions et en suggérant quelques moyens d'assurer une certaine stabilité de l'emploi dans ce secteur.
The Canadian primary textile industry', with more than half of its 82,000 employees located in Quebec, offers relatively stable employment.
Indeed, the textile employment is relatively stable, although there are small seasonal changes, and a degree of unemployment in the midst of an expanding economy. In an average year it (textile employment) varies up and down by 4.3%; in all Canadian industry the variation is 7%.
Variations in textile employment are completely opposite in time to the seasonal changes in all other industry. Textiles employ more in the months when other industries are reduced; textile employment drops when other industries are rising.
Values of textile employment were many, in addition to stability. The textile industry should not be regarded as a decadent industry but rather as a growth industry; Canada's increasing needs would, in 20 years, require the output of 182,000 textile workers.
It is a "small town" industry; out of every dollar of the value added to goods during textile manufacture 58 cents goes for wages, a higher proportion than in any other manufacturing industry; the types of labour required in textiles are such that they fit in well with the requirements of other industries.
This industry does not suffer from any inefficiency which modern machinery can overcome. The general level of equipment quality is good. Expenditures, chiefly for renovation, have been very large and show a more progressive investment program than for manufacturing in general. The technology and merchandising ability of the industry has been sharpened to a high pitch.
That employment in the Canadian textile industry had dropped by 15,000 since 1950 is to be due to a structural change in the position of the Canadian industry, a sharp rise in the intensity of competition from imports, a marked reduction in the share of the total domestic market supplied by Canadian workers. Such changes had also affected other industries, but none so severely as textiles because the extra exposure of textiles is chiefly due to precisely those factors which provide its unique advantage as a source of employment.
And yet it has the same problems as other Canadian industries which must encounter the mass-production or low-wage products of other countries.
It is fortunate for Canada that there are industries, and textiles is important among them, which are relatively non-seasonal and provide inherently stable employment. Textiles provide a built-in stabilizer against the large and more erratic seasonal and cyclical fluctuations in the employment of other industries.
There is a plus for textiles in that the seasonal pattern of employment exactly complements the changes in other industry. Experience has shown that workers are transferable between industries only with great dislocation and difficulty. Transfer between areas is even more difficult.
A hopeful remedy for instability of employment, therefore, lies in maintaining a reasonable continuity of the established Canadian industrial pattern with some emphasis towards those industries in the private sector of the economy which are inherently stable in their employment pattern.
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BERRY, W.M., B.A. in Economies, McMaster University, executive vice-president, Primary Textiles Institute.