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Labour Force Survey, February 2017

Released: 2017-03-10

Employment was little changed in February (+15,000 or +0.1%). An increase in the number of people working full time offset a decline in the number of people working part time. With fewer people searching for work, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 6.6%, matching the rate observed in January 2015 and the lowest since October 2008.

In the 12 months to February, employment rose by 288,000 (+1.6%), with most of the gains occurring since July 2016. This coincided with stronger economic growth in the second half of 2016.

In February, there were an estimated 105,000 more people working full time, the second notable increase in three months. In the 12 months to February, full-time employment rose by 235,000 (+1.6%), driven by increases since July. The number of people working part time fell by an estimated 90,000 in February, following a period of growth that began in the autumn of 2015.

In the 12 months to February, the total number of hours worked was little changed.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment
Employment

From January to February, employment increased among core-aged women (25 to 54 years old) and men aged 55 and older. There was little employment change among the other demographic groups.

Provincially, employment rose in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In contrast, there were fewer people working in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. Employment was essentially unchanged in the other five provinces.

In February, more people were employed in wholesale and retail trade, public administration, and in transportation and warehousing.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

Employment increases for core-aged women

Employment among women aged 25 to 54 increased for the third consecutive month, up 18,000 in February. Their unemployment rate remained at 5.3% as more women in this age group participated in the labour market. More core-aged women worked full time in the month (+84,000) and this was partly offset by fewer of them working part time (-65,000). The recent employment gains for core-aged women boosted their year-over-year employment growth to 98,000 (+1.7%).

Following a notable increase in January, employment for 25- to 54-year-old men held steady in February. Compared with February 2016, employment for this group increased by 63,000 (+1.0%), driven by gains since the fall of 2016. In the 12 months to February, the unemployment rate for core-aged men fell by a full percentage point to 5.8%.

Employment among men aged 55 and older increased by 14,000 in February, and their unemployment rate was 6.3%. In the 12 months to February, employment among older men rose by 63,000 (+3.1%) and their population increased by 154,000 (+3.1%).

In February, employment among women aged 55 and older held steady and their unemployment rate was 5.2%. Compared with 12 months earlier, 56,000 (+3.4%) more women aged 55 and older were working, and the number of women in this age group rose by 156,000 (+2.9%).

Employment among youths aged 15 to 24 was little changed in February, both in the month and on a year-over-year basis, while their population continued to decline. Their unemployment rate was down by 0.9 percentage points to 12.4% in February, as fewer youths searched for work.

Provincial summary

In February, employment increased by 19,000 in British Columbia, continuing an upward trend that began in the spring of 2015. The increase was fueled by gains in full-time work and was spread across several industries. In the 12 months to February, employment increased by 85,000 or 3.6%, the fastest growth rate among the provinces. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell by 1.4 percentage points to 5.1%, the lowest since October 2008. In February, British Columbia posted the lowest unemployment rate among the provinces.

Employment in Saskatchewan rose by 8,000 in February, the largest increase since April 2012. Nearly all of the gains were in full-time work and stemmed from the services sector. Prior to the increase in February, total employment had been relatively flat since the spring of 2016. In February, the provincial unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 6.0%.

In Manitoba, employment increased by 3,400 in February, driven by gains in full-time work and in construction. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.8%, the second lowest among the provinces following British Columbia. The employment increase in February boosted year-over-year gains for the province to 6,600 (+1.0%).

In February, the number of people working full time increased by 53,000 in Ontario, offsetting a similar-sized decrease in the number of people working part time, resulting in little change in overall employment for the month. Building on gains since July, employment in Ontario was up by 108,000 (+1.5%) on a year-over-year basis, with virtually all of the increase in full-time work. In February, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 6.2% as the number of people searching for work edged down.

There was little employment change in Quebec for the second consecutive month. In the 12 months to February, employment was up by 83,000 (+2.0%), powered by gains in the second half of 2016. The unemployment rate in February was 6.4%, down 1.1 percentage points from 12 months earlier.

In Alberta, employment held steady in February, with full-time gains (+19,000) offsetting losses in part-time employment (-18,000). Following significant declines from the autumn of 2015 to the summer of 2016, total employment in the province has been stable in recent months. In February, the unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 8.3%, as fewer people searched for work.

Following an increase in January, there were 6,800 fewer people working in Nova Scotia in February and the unemployment rate was 8.1%. The employment decline was largely the result of a drop in part-time employment. Although total employment in the province decreased in February, it was little changed compared with 12 months earlier.

Employment in Newfoundland and Labrador fell by 3,800 in February and the unemployment rate was 14.2%. The employment decline in February offset an increase in January and continued a downward trend that began in May 2016. In the 12 months to February, employment in the province fell by 6,400 (-2.8%).

Industry perspective

Following little change in the previous three months, employment in wholesale and retail trade increased by 19,000 in February and edged up by 35,000 (+1.3%) on a year-over-year basis. The additional employment in February followed higher sales reported in the latter part of 2016 at both the wholesale and retail level.

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased for the second consecutive month, up 8,800 in February. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry increased by 34,000 (+3.8%).

Employment in public administration also increased for the second consecutive month, up 12,000 in February, bringing total gains to 65,000 (+7.2%) on a year-over-year basis. In the 12 months to February, there were more people employed at the federal level and also at the local, municipal and regional level.

The number of private and public sector employees was little changed in February. On a year-over-year basis, increases in the number of private sector employees totalled 253,000 (+2.2%), spread across several service industries, while public sector employment rose by 78,000 (+2.2%), driven by gains in public administration.

The number of self-employed workers was little changed in February and edged down from 12 months earlier.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

Women's employment rates and gender wage differences

In 1950, 21.1% of women aged 25 to 54 were employed. This had more than tripled to 77.8% by 2016. In contrast, the employment rate for men fell from 94.0% in 1950 to 85.0% in 2016. The increase in women's employment coincided with socio-demographic and economic changes, such as increased participation in higher levels of education, delayed marriage and childbearing, and increased separation and divorce.

Despite the convergence in their employment rates, women continue to earn less than men. In 2016, women aged 25 to 54 working full time earned an average of $26.69 per hour, while their male counterparts earned an average of $30.35. This means that on an hourly basis, women earned $0.88 for every dollar earned by men in 2016, up from about $0.75 in the mid-1980s.

For more information on women's employment rates and gender wage differences, see the "Women and Paid Work" chapter of Women in Canada.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canada 150 – Employment rate of women and men aged 25 to 54, 1950 to 2016
Canada 150 – Employment rate of women and men aged 25 to 54, 1950 to 2016




  Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for February are for the week of February 12 to 18.

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.

Full-time employment consists of persons who usually work 30 hours or more per week at their main or only job.

Part-time employment consists of persons who usually work less than 30 hours per week at their main or only job.

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 April 7.

Products

A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X), is now available for the week ending February 18.

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).

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 Andrew Fields (613-951-3551; andrew.fields@canada.ca), Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; vincent.ferrao@canada.ca) or Client Services (toll-free 1-866-873-8788; statcan.labour-travail.statcan@canada.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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