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Labour Force Survey, January 2017

Released: 2017-02-10

Employment rose by 48,000 (+0.3%) in January, building on gains observed in the latter part of 2016. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.8%.

On a year-over-year basis, employment rose by 276,000 (+1.5%), with most of the increase occurring from August to January.

Following a significant increase in December, full-time employment held steady in January. Compared with 12 months earlier, full-time employment was up 86,000 (+0.6%), with increases totalling 141,000 since August.

Despite little change in January, part-time employment was up on a year-over-year basis (+190,000 or +5.6%). In January, 19.6% of employed persons worked part time, compared with 18.8% the same month a year earlier.

In the 12 months to January, the number of hours worked declined by 0.8%. In general, changes in actual hours worked reflect a number of factors, including changes in the composition of employment by full-time/part-time status, industry, occupation, age and sex.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment
Employment

From December to January, employment increased among core-aged men and women (25 to 54 years old). There was little overall employment change among the other demographic groups.

Compared with December, employment rose in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. In contrast, there were fewer people working in New Brunswick. Employment was little changed in the remaining provinces.

Nearly all of the employment growth in January came from the service sector, with increases in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; business, building and other support services; transportation and warehousing; and public administration. On the other hand, there were fewer people working in information, culture and recreation.

The number of private sector employees edged up in January, while public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

Employment increases for the core working-age population

In January, employment for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 30,000, and their unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.9%. The employment increase in January was the largest in over two years. On a year-over-year basis, gains for men in this age group totalled 69,000 (+1.1%).

Employment among women aged 25 to 54 increased for the second consecutive month, up 27,000 in January. Their unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.3%. The recent gains for core-aged women boosted their year-over-year employment growth to 76,000 (+1.3%).

In January, employment among youths aged 15 to 24 was little changed on both a monthly and a year-over-year basis, while their population growth continued on a downward trend. With more youths searching for work in January, their unemployment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points to 13.3%.

Employment among men aged 55 and older was little changed in January. However, their unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 6.5% as fewer men in this age group searched for work. In the 12 months to January, employment among men aged 55 and older rose by 65,000 (+3.2%) and their population increased by 156,000 (+3.1%).

Employment among women aged 55 and older was also little changed in January, and their unemployment rate was 5.3%. Compared with 12 months earlier, 64,000 (+3.8%) more women aged 55 and older were working and the number of women in this age group was up by 159,000 (+2.9%).

Provincial summary

Employment in Ontario rose by 29,000 in January. The unemployment rate for the province remained at 6.4% as more people participated in the labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in Ontario was up by 90,000 (+1.3%), with all of the gains from August to January.

In January, employment increased by 11,000 in British Columbia, continuing an upward trend that began in the spring of 2015. In the 12 months to January 2017, employment increased by 82,000 or 3.5%, the fastest growth rate among the provinces. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point to 5.6%, the lowest among the provinces.

There were 4,200 more people working in Nova Scotia in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 7.7%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province increased by 9,800, partly due to the low reached in January 2016 and the fact that employment in the province has picked up recently, with most of the gains occurring since October 2016.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 2,200 more people employed in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points to 13.8%. Employment in the province has been trending downward since May 2016.

Following an increase in December, employment in Quebec held steady in January. As the number of unemployed decreased (-15,000), the unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points to 6.2%. Compared with January 2016, employment in Quebec was up by 97,000 or 2.4%, powered by gains in the second half of 2016.

In Alberta, employment was unchanged in January, with part-time gains (+25,000) offsetting losses in full time (-24,000). The unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to 8.8%, as the number of people searching for work edged up. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Alberta was little changed.

In January, there were 3,000 fewer people working in New Brunswick, leaving employment for the province at about the same level as 12 months earlier. The unemployment rate edged down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.9%, the result of fewer people participating in the labour market.

Industry perspective

Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing increased by 21,000 in January, bringing gains from 12 months earlier to 59,000 (+5.3%), with most of this increase concentrated in the last six months.

There were 16,000 more people working in business, building and other support services in January. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was little changed.

In January, employment was also up in transportation and warehousing (+11,000), contributing to an increase of 23,000 (+2.5%) from 12 months earlier.

Employment in public administration rose by 7,800 in January, bringing total gains to 52,000 (+5.7%) from 12 months earlier. Over this period, gains were strongest at the local, municipal and regional level, with increases also observed at the federal and provincial levels.

Information, culture and recreation employment declined by 13,000 in January. Compared with January 2016, employment in the industry edged up 21,000 (+2.8%).

The number of private sector employees edged up in January (+32,000), building on the strong growth in the second half of 2016. In the 12 months to January, the number of private sector employees rose by 257,000 (+2.2%), with increases in a number of service sector industries as well as construction.

Both public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed in January. On a year-over-year basis, the number of public sector employees rose by 68,000 (+1.9%), the result of additional employment in public administration and information, culture and recreation. Self-employment edged down over the same period.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to the concepts used in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.7% in January, compared with 4.8% in the United States. In the 12 months to January, the unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points in Canada, while it was little changed in the United States (-0.1 percentage points).

In January, the labour force participation rate was 65.8% in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) and 62.9% in the United States. The participation rate in Canada was unchanged compared with 12 months earlier, while it increased slightly in the United States (+0.2 percentage points).

The US-adjusted employment rate in Canada stood at 62.1% in January, compared with 59.9% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points in Canada and by 0.3 percentage points in the United States.

For further information on Canada–US comparisons, see "Measuring Employment and Unemployment in Canada and the United States – A comparison."

Historical perspective on the Canadian labour market

As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a brief look at the history of the Canadian Labour Force Survey (LFS).

After the Second World War, Canada experienced massive changes as the country transitioned from a war economy to a peace economy. The LFS was designed to meet the need for reliable and timely data on Canada's labour market conditions. It started as a quarterly survey in November 1945 and has been a monthly survey since November 1952, producing leading economic indicators each month, such as the employment rate and the unemployment rate.

In 1946, the employment rate was 53.1%, increasing to 61.1% in 2016, as a result of a number of factors, most notably higher labour force participation among women over the course of this period.

The unemployment rate more than doubled during the history of the LFS, from 3.4% in 1946 to 7.0% in 2016. There was variation over time due to historical and economic factors. The unemployment rate was higher during periods of economic downturns, reaching a high during the recession of the 1980s. It was lowest during the post-war period of the late 1940s.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment rate by sex, 1946 to 2016
Employment rate by sex, 1946 to 2016

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unemployment rate by sex, 1946 to 2016
Unemployment rate by sex, 1946 to 2016




  Note to readers

The historical perspective on the Canadian labour market was adapted from the "History of the Canadian Labour Force Survey, 1945 to 2016," which summarizes many of the major changes that have been made in the past 70 years to various components of the LFS, including methodology, questionnaire as well as collection and processing techniques.

Labour Force Survey: 2016 revisions

A standard revision was applied to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates, as announced in The Daily on February 3. Using the latest seasonal factors, seasonally adjusted estimates from the LFS were revised from January 2014 to December 2016.

Occupation data are now based on the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC). Because NOC2016 maintains the NOC 2011 structure of major, minor and unit groups, no historical revision of data was necessary.

The LFS estimates for January are for the week of January 15 to 21.

The LFS estimates are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. As a result, monthly estimates will show more variability than trends observed over longer time periods. For more information, see "Interpreting Monthly Changes in Employment from the Labour Force Survey." Estimates for smaller geographic areas or industries also have more variability. For an explanation of the sampling variability of estimates and how to use standard errors to assess this variability, consult the "Data quality" section of the publication Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X).

This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level.

The LFS estimates are the first in a series of labour market indicators released by Statistics Canada, which includes indicators from programs such as the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), Employment Insurance Statistics, and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey. For more information on the conceptual differences between employment measures from the LFS and SEPH, refer to section 8 of the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G).

The employment rate is the number of employed people as a percentage of the population aged 15 and older. The rate for a particular group (for example, youths aged 15 to 24) is the number employed in that group as a percentage of the population for that group.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed).

The participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed as a percentage of the population.

Seasonal adjustment

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted estimates, which facilitate comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Chart 1 shows trend-cycle data on employment. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series, which provides information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. These data are available in CANSIM table 282-0087 for the national level employment series. For more information, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on March 10.

Products

A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X), is now available for the week ending January 21.

More information about the concepts and use of the Labour Force Survey is available online in the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G).

The Labour Force Survey: Public Use Microdata File (Catalogue number71M0001X), using updated confidentiality protection measures, is now available.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; vincent.ferrao@canada.ca) or Andrew Fields (613-951-3551; andrew.fields@canada.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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