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The forces of the demand for British Columbia's mining labour : an analysis of the trends of wage rates and employment of British Columbia's mining industry Meekison, James David

Abstract

This thesis attempts to analyse the influences of changes in demand for British Columbia's mining labour upon the wage rates and employment of British Columbia's mining industry. The competitive elements of British Columbia's mining industry suggests that changes of wage rates and employment will be sharply affected by changes of metal prices. The theoretical effects of a change of metal prices indicate that the industry's output varies in the same direction as metal price changes. Furthermore, it is expected that employment will vary directly with output changes. Therefore, the number of labourers employed should vary directly with metal price changes. The trends of employment of British Columbia's mining labour and metal prices are studied to evaluate these theoretical expectancies. As an element of demand for British Columbia mining labour, the level of metal prices is expected to influence wage rates of British Columbia's mining labour. Wage rates have increased in every year of the twelve year period but one, while metal prices have fluctuated over the period. These phenomena provide questions for further analysis. The second major topic of the thesis is concerned with influences of changes of productivity of British Columbia's mining labour upon wage rates and employment. The first task is to describe concepts of productivity of mining labour and then to determine the meaning of a productivity index. Following this, the meaning of a change in the productivity index must be described as the productivity of mining labour has varied considerably over the twelve year period. The trends of the differentials of employment and the differentials of labour's productivity suggest that an inverse relationship exists between these variables. This relationship is evaluated and its similarity to a theoretical average product curve is described. However, the relationship between the trends of wage rates and mining labour's productivity provides little evidence of any association of these variables. It is suggested that if the changes of mining labour's productivity have influenced wage rates, then this influence has been hidden by other factors of wage determination.

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