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January 2003     Vol. 4, no. 1

2002 - A good year in the labour market

Geoff Bowlby

  • From January to December 2002, employment jumped 560,000 (3.7%). At the end of the year, the proportion of the working age-population employed was 62.4%, the highest on record.
  • In 2002, the unemployment rate fell half a point to 7.5%. Had it not been for a large jump in labour market participation, the rate would have dropped more. At the end of the year, the participation rate hit 67.5%, up a full point for the year, tying the high of January 1990.
  • Firms in most industries were hiring in 2002, but the largest gain came in manufacturing where the ranks of the employed jumped 125,000 (5.6%).
  • The resurgence of manufacturing in Canada, combined with the boom in home construction, led to an increase of 211,000 (3.1%) in employment among adult men. While manufacturing accounted for a large portion of the 244,000 (4.2%) newly employed adult women, more significant gains for this group were made in health care and social assistance, as well as in education.
  • Youth employment expanded 104,000 (4.5%) in 2002, in part because of the greater availability of part-time jobs. Overall, part-time work increased by a considerable 223,000 (8.1%).
  • Employment increased in almost every province, but two-thirds of the gain was in Ontario and Quebec.


Geoff Bowlby is with the Labour Statistics Division. He can be reached at (613) 951-3325 or

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