MRO Magazine

Employment rate hits record high

Ottawa, ON -- Employment in Canada increased by an estimated 89,000 in January 2007, continuing the upward trend th...


Human Resources

February 12, 2007
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — Employment in Canada increased by an estimated 89,000 in January 2007, continuing the upward trend that began in September 2006. January’s employment increase was largely driven by growth in the two westernmost provinces. The unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage points in January to 6.2%, the result of more people entering the labour force in search of work.

In January, the share of the working-age population who were employed across Canada hit a record high 63.4%.

Employment increased by an estimated 32,000 in British Columbia and by 24,000 in Alberta, pushing their employment rates to new record highs in January. Manitoba and Saskatchewan also posted record-high employment rates.

The strong demand for labour in Alberta and British Columbia has continued to draw Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike into the labour market; however, this was particularly true for Aboriginal people. Since January 2005, employment rates among off-reserve Aboriginal people living in these provinces have increased far more than those among their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

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January’s growth was equally split between full and part time. While employment gains since January 2006 have been driven by full time, since October 2006, almost two-thirds of the increase in employment has been in part time.

Employment gains in Canada in January were largely spurred by growth in four industries: information, culture and recreation; professional, scientific and technical services; accommodation and food services as well as natural resources.

Overall manufacturing employment was unchanged in January; as continued weakness in Ontario was offset by gains in Western Canada, particularly in Alberta and Manitoba. Employment in this industry has been on an upward trend in these provinces since February 2006.

Adult women and men shared in the employment gains in January. Over the past year, employment growth among adult women has been particularly strong, growing by 3.4%.

In January, the number of employees in the private sector increased by 65,000, growing by 3.7% from a year ago. At the same time, the number of public sector employees was little changed.

FAR WEST DRIVES EMPLOYMENT GROWTH

Employment rose in Canada’s two westernmost provinces in January with British Columbia leading the way. Employment increased by an estimated 32,000 in that province, following two months of little change. The unemployment rate plunged by 0.9 percentage points to 4.3%, once again hitting the 30-year low set in June 2006. From a year ago, employment has grown by 81,000 (+3.7%) in this province.

Much of British Columbia’s increase in January came from gains in the service sector, namely in trade; accommodation and food services; and information, culture and recreation. Favourable snow conditions may have spurred additional hiring in these ski-related industries. Increases in the goods sector were in construction and natural resources.

In Alberta, employment increased by 24,000, mostly in full-time work. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.3%, however, due to a large influx of labour force participants. In January, employment gains were widespread, with the largest increase going to adult men (+11,000). Employment in Alberta grew 6.5% from a year ago, more than twice the national rate of employment growth of 2.4%.

The largest employment gain in Alberta in January came from the information, culture and recreation industry (+10,000), primarily in performing arts and spectator sports and in amusement, gambling and recreation. The manufacturing industry continued to gain ground in January, adding 6,000 workers. Employment in this industry has grown by 21% since January 2006.

There was continued strength in Alberta in natural resources, which added 5,000 more workers in January. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 14%.

The strong demand for labour in Alberta and British Columbia has continued to draw Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike into the labour market; however, this was particularly true for Aboriginal people. Since January 2005, employment rates among off-reserve Aboriginal people in Alberta have increased by 3.1 percentage points to 63.8% and by 5.5 percentage points in British Columbia to 58.5%. Over the same period, employment rates among non-Aboriginal people increased by 1.0 percentage point in Alberta and 1.6 percentage points in British Columbia. In January, the employment rate among off-reserve Aboriginal people living in Alberta was comparable to the national employment rate of 63.4%.

Employment in Manitoba increased by an estimated 3,000 in January, which caused the employment rate to reach a record high 66.1%. At the same time, Manitoba’s labour force grew by 6,000, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.5 percentage points to 4.6%. The bulk of the added employment was in the manufacturing sector.

Employment edged up in Saskatchewan in January, pushing the employment rate to a new record high of 67.6%. Employment in the province has grown by 4.6% over the past 12 months, second only to Alberta.

ENTRANTS PUSH UP ONTARIO’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

Ontario’s unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points in January to 6.4%, due to an estimated 32,000 additional labour force participants. Over the past 12 months, 88,000 (+3.2%) adult women have entered Ontario’s labour force, while the number of male participants has increased by just 18,000 (+0.6%).

While Ontario’s overall employment was little changed in January, there were gains in accommodation and food services (+20,000) and professional, scientific and technical services (+16,000). Nevertheless, these gains were offset by losses in business, building and other support services (-15,000); and manufacturing (-13,000).

An additional 15,000 Quebecers were working in January with gains spread across a number of industries. The largest increases were in educational services and information, culture and recreation. At the same time, an increase in the number of people looking for work pushed the unemployment rate up slightly to 7.7%.

Employment in Nova Scotia rose by 4,000 in January. Increases in accommodation and food services; manufacturing; and professional, scientific and technical services were tempered by a loss in construction. As was the case in many provinces in January, an expansion in the number of people in the labour force looking for work caused the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia to increase by 0.5 percentage points to 7.8%.

Following a period of decline over the late spring and summer, employment in New Brunswick began to increase in the fall of 2006. In January, employment increased by 3,000, mainly in healthcare and social assistance; utilities; and agriculture, yet still remains below the level of 12 months ago.

STRENGTH IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRIES

The service sector drove most of the national employment growth in January. The increases came from information, culture and recreation (+29,000), professional, scientific and technical services (+28,000) and accommodation and food services (+24,000). On the goods’ side, natural resources added 10,000 workers in January.

While service growth has been the driving force behind overall employment gains in Canada over the past 12 months, in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, a larger share of provincial employment growth has come from their goods sectors.

Despite continued manufacturing weakness in Ontario and Quebec, there were gains in the industry in both Alberta and Manitoba in January. Manufacturing employment in these two provinces has been on an upward trend since February 2006, increasing by 24% (+31,000) in Alberta and 14% (+9,000) in Manitoba.

CONTINUED STRENGTH AMONG ADULT WOMEN

In January, employment among adult women continued to increase with gains of 42,000. This brings their growth over the past 12 months to 217,000 (+3.4%). This growth has been driven by full time, which ros
e by 167,000.

Employment also increased for adult men in January (+40,000), primarily in part time. This brings employment growth for adult men to 142,000 (+1.9%) over the past 12 months, with most of the growth in full time. Employment gains among youths over the past year (+40,000) have also been largely in full time.

Although employment gains over the year were mainly in full time, the last three months have produced more part-time increases. Almost two-thirds of the employment gains since October 2006 have been in part time, most of which were in Ontario and Quebec.