Objective and data sources


The Canadian Labour Market at a Glance presents charts and highlights of key trends in Canada's job market. This publication is intended for a variety of users, including those working in government, educational and financial institutions, and the media, as well as any other organizations and individuals interested in the different aspects of the labour market.

The publication contains 101 charts with historical and current data from surveys conducted mainly by Statistics Canada. Each graph is accompanied by two to six highlights explaining the key trends associated with the topic. The charts contain annual average data. The length of the time series depends on the availability of data. The oldest data are from 1976, and the most recent from 2007. Unless otherwise indicated, the graphs present national data.

Data sources

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides monthly estimates of employment and unemployment that are among the most timely and important measures of performance of the Canadian economy. The main objective of the LFS is to divide the working-age population into three mutually exclusive groups—the employed, the unemployed, and those not in the labour force—and to provide descriptive and explanatory data on each of these.

The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) is Canada's only source of monthly estimates on the total number of payroll employees, payrolls and hours of work, by detailed industry, province and territory. SEPH is produced by combining survey data and administrative data on payroll deductions from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). SEPH is used extensively by the System of National Accounts in calculating critical components of gross domestic product. The data are also used by the public and private sectors for contract escalation clauses and wage rate determination, and by the CRA to revise the maximum pensionable earnings and retirement savings plan contribution limits for tax filers.

The Employment Insurance Statistics Program uses administrative data collected by Social Development Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to report on the operation of the Employment Insurance Program and also to provide complementary labour market statistics for areas not covered by other Statistics Canada surveys (e.g., small geographic areas in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut).

The Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) examines the ways in which employers (excluding public administration) and their employees respond to ongoing changes in the labour market. Survey results provide insight into the relationship between employment practices and a firm's performance, as well as more in-depth information on the effects of the introduction of new technologies and on training and human resources policies. The survey is unique in that employers and employees are linked at the microdata level, since employees are selected from within sampled workplaces. Thus, information from both the supply and demand sides of the labour market is available for study. WES is a longitudinal survey with data starting in 1999. This longitudinal aspect allows researchers to study both employer and employee outcomes over time in an evolving workplace. WES results are widely used, for example, by industrial relations researchers, public policy analysts, and labour economists interested in collective bargaining, training and technology use.

The Census of Population provides population and dwelling counts, by province and territory and by smaller geographic units such as cities and districts within cities. The census also provides information about Canadians' demographic, social and economic characteristics. These data are used by governments, businesses, labour unions and others to analyse labour market conditions throughout the country. The census is also useful in allowing comparisons of labour market structure and performance among small areas. Similarly, for small population groups, such as visible minorities, immigrants and language groups, the census allows the assessment of the occupational structure and labour market status and integration of these groups, compared with the population as a whole. The census is also the only source of data covering the entire labour market, including Indian reserves, overseas households, and all provinces and territories. Given the size of the census sample, industry and occupation data are reliable at very detailed levels of geography.

The Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) complements traditional survey data on labour market activity and income with an additional dimension—the changes experienced by individuals over time. At the heart of the survey's objectives is the understanding of the economic well-being of Canadians. For example, what economic shifts do individuals and families experience, and how do they vary with changes in paid work, family make-up, government transfers and other factors? The survey's longitudinal dimension makes it possible to analyse concurrent and related events. The first Canadian household survey to provide national data on the fluctuations in income that a typical family or individual experiences over time, SLID gives greater insight on many issues such as the nature and extent of poverty in Canada. In addition to the longitudinal aspect of this survey, 'traditional' cross-sectional data are also available, and provide additional content to data collected by the Labour Force Survey.

The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) is a survey designed to study the process by which new immigrants adapt and integrate into Canadian society, including the various stages of the integration process, and the factors that help or hinder integration. The survey also examines how the socio-economic characteristics of immigrants influence the process by which they integrate into Canadian society. The respondents are interviewed at three separate stages after their arrival in Canada: six months, two years and four years after arrival. This will allow the LSIC to compile a dynamic picture of the experiences of these newly arrived people. Topics covered in the survey include language proficiency, housing, education, foreign credential recognition, employment, health, values and attitudes, the development and use of social networks, income, and perceptions of settlement in Canada.

The Small Area and Administrative Data Division produces a wealth of income and demographic information on Canadians and their families. These data, taken from personal income tax returns submitted by Canadians, represent an important analysis tool for businesses and other institutions in both the private and public sectors.

International data are obtained from different sources, including websites and publications from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Concerning international comparisons, most industrialized countries, including Canada and the United States, subscribe to guidelines established by the International Labour Office for defining and measuring labour market status, including unemployment. However, the guidelines are, by design, rather imprecise, so that individual countries can interpret them within the context of their own labour markets. As a result, all estimates (especially unemployment rates) are not strictly comparable across all countries. Most of the data used in Section P of this publication have been modified to make them more comparable to those collected in the United States. Please refer to the document "Comparative Civilian Labor Force Statistics" in the References section for more information.

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