Canada: To Work or Not to Work? Women’s Dilemma Cuts Growth

Krystyna Recoskie, expecting her third child in July, says she’s done with full-time employment.
The 37-year-old wants to spend more time with her kids, so she’s cut back her hours to a couple of shifts a week as a cardiac sonographer at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
“Some people want to be at work, but I want to be there to pick up my kid from the bus stop,” she said. “I just wish that some moms wouldn’t judge me and think that I am throwing away my career.”
The choices of people such as Recoskie may spell trouble for Canada and other economies with aging workforces, which have been supported in recent decades by women who broke social barriers to join the labor market. The long-term economic growth trend in Canada will slow because female participation in the workforce has probably crested, says Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development economist Peter Jarrett.
“We have been living off the fact that steadily more young women were entering” the labor force, said Jarrett, who covers Canada for the Paris-based OECD. “That process looks very much to me like it’s over,” he said, calling the trend “disconcerting.”
The percentage of women ages 25 to 54 who are working or looking for work -- the so-called participation rate -- was 81.8 percent in April, down from 82.9 percent as recently as December 2012, according to the federal statistics agency.