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I am delighted to be back at Queen’s, where I earned an undergraduate degree in economics some 40 years ago. I remember this time of year well. It is a stressful time—whether you are stressed about starting your career, getting into your next degree program, or just getting this year’s work done.
Those of you who hope to join the workforce may be feeling both excitement and nervousness about an uncertain future. At least the macroeconomic situation you face is a positive one. The economy has created 283,000 jobs over the past 12 months, and the unemployment rate is as low as it has been in more than 40 years.
However, this may still leave you wondering about the future. We have all heard stories of people struggling to get a foot in the door, of being overqualified and underemployed, and of the challenges of building a stable career in the “gig economy.” Meanwhile, automation and digitalization are disrupting entire industries and threatening to make some jobs obsolete.
Given this backdrop, I will use my time today to talk about Canada’s labour market—why the central bank pays such close attention to it, and what role monetary policy can play in its performance. I will also take the risk of speculating a little on what lies further ahead for you—on the future of work.