The Labour Force Survey is a monthly survey which measures the current state of the Canadian labour market and is used, among other things, to calculate the national, provincial, territorial and regional employment and unemployment rates. The survey results are used to make important decisions regarding job creation, education and training, retirement pensions and income support. Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.
The survey is usually conducted around the third week every month and results are published early the next month.
Interviews are held during the day and in the evening, including weekends and statutory holidays.
Personal and telephone interview, as well as electronic questionnaires
Interviews are conducted in person (computer-assisted personal interview), by phone (computer-assisted telephone interview) or a combination of both methods.
Mandatory under the Statistics Act
In view of the importance of the results from the Labour Force Survey, your participation in the survey is mandatory under the Statistics Act.
- Statistics Canada must collect and compile statistics on various subjects. These subjects are identified in Section 22 of the Act. The Labour Force Survey is authorized by paragraph 22 (h) - Labour and Employment.
- Section 8 permits the minister responsible for Statistics Canada to order that participation in a survey be on a voluntary basis. No such order has been signed for the Labour Force Survey, therefore, participation is mandatory.
- Section 31 sets out penalties for providing false answers or for refusing to participate in a mandatory survey.
In order to ensure data accuracy, Statistics Canada counts on the cooperation and goodwill of Canadians – coast to coast – included in the survey sample.
Block Information Confidentiality
Your answers are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act and will be kept strictly confidential.
Block Information on Record linkage
To enhance the data from this survey and to minimize the reporting burden for respondents, Statistics Canada may combine the information you provide with other survey or administrative data sources.
Block Information on Topics covered in the survey
Topics covered in the survey
The survey asks questions about labour market activities.
Block Information on Published data
Block Information on Frequently asked question
Frequently asked question
- What is the Labour Force Survey?
- Who is surveyed?
- Why and how was my household selected?
- I don't work, why do you include me in your survey?
- Why do you ask questions that are not related to employment?
- Who uses the survey data? Why is it important?
- How do I access survey results?
- Where can I get more information on the survey?
What is the Labour Force Survey?
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a household survey carried out monthly by Statistics Canada. It is the only source of current, monthly estimates of total employment and unemployment. While LFS is best known for the unemployment rate, it also produces a great deal of information on a variety of labour-related issues.
Who is surveyed?
The survey is conducted in 54,000 households across Canada. Information is obtained from all members of the selected household who are 15 years old and older, whether they work or not.
Why and how was my household selected?
It would be costly and impractical to survey each and every household in Canada. Instead, Statistics Canada employs a statistical method known as sampling. Sampling is an established way to determine the characteristics of an entire population by using the answers of a much smaller, randomly chosen sample. In order to ensure that the sample is an accurate reflection of the population as a whole, the survey results from all sampled households must be collected.
I don't work, why do I have to participate in your survey?
Retired persons, students, unpaid family workers and others not looking for work are included because we need their information in order to estimate the participation rate. The participation rate is the size of the labour force as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over.
Why do you ask questions that are not related to employment?
It is possible that at the end of the interview, the interviewer asks you questions that are not related to work; for example, you could be asked questions about travel. There are some surveys such as the Travel Survey of Residents of Canada which use the same sample to collect information for their survey. This initiative results in substantial cost savings for Statistics Canada.
Who uses the survey data? Why is it important?
The results from the Labour Force Survey have many uses. All levels of government rely on employment and unemployment information from the survey. For example, its information is used to determine Employment Insurance eligibility as well as the size and duration of the program's benefits.
Data from the survey are also factored into the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP), an aggregate measure of economic production. Among its many other uses, the GDP is an important factor in determining the size of transfers from the federal government to the provinces.
The survey's data also help determine the Bank of Canada interest rate. The Bank is constantly monitoring the effects of its policies to see if they are having the intended effect on financial markets, spending, production, employment and ultimately inflation. Financial markets also look to the survey's numbers to predict what the Bank of Canada might do with interest rates.
Because it provides valuable information on the success of various programs (or potentially the need for new ones), the LFS is closely monitored by a number of government departments. For example, those concerned with adjustments to retirement and pension funding monitor information on the employment situation of older workers. Also closely watched by policy and program developers are data on youth employment and unemployment to see how these young people are entering the work force.
Trends in self-employment by sector are followed closely by those interested in the role played by small and medium-sized businesses in job creation and economic growth.
Finally, each month the media gives much coverage to the survey results as they are recognized as one of the most important signs of how the economy is performing.
How do I access survey results?
Results are released monthly in The Daily approximately 10 working days after the survey is completed.
Consult Published data to obtain survey data and analysis on the LFS.
Where can I get more information about the survey?
Contact us for more information on the LFS.
- Questionnaires, definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3701