MRO Magazine

Older workers account for most of October’s employment gains

Ottawa, ON -- Employment continued to rise in October, jumping an estimated 63,000, split between full- and part-ti...


Human Resources

November 8, 2007
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — Employment continued to rise in October, jumping an estimated 63,000, split between full- and part-time, according to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to a 33-year low of 5.8%, down 0.1 of a percentage point from September.

Employment has increased 2.1% (+346,000) so far in 2007, the strongest January-to-October growth in the past five years. October’s employment rate reached an all-time high of 63.7%.

In October, women aged 25 and over posted a record employment rate (59.4%), along with the lowest unemployment rate (4.3%) in over 30 years.

Workers aged 55 and over accounted for the majority of the employment gain in October. With these gains, the proportion of persons aged 55 and over who were employed reached its highest level, at 32.2%. Employment for older workers has risen 6.9% since the start of 2007, in contrast to 1.2% for those aged 25 to 54.

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For the second consecutive month, more than half the increase in employment occurred in Ontario. In October, employment increased 32,000 in this province, while the unemployment rate declined to 6.0%.

At the national level, October’s employment increase was in the service sector, most notably in health care and social assistance, “other services”, and public administration. However, this strength was tempered by losses in business, building and other support services, as well as accommodation and food services.

Spurred on by the gains in health care and public administration, employment growth in October was concentrated among public sector employees. With stronger growth in recent months, employment in the public sector has increased 5.6% so far in 2007.

Wage pressure continued to build in October, with the year-over-year increase in average hourly wages estimated at 4.1%, still well above the most recent year-over-year Consumer Price Index increase of 2.5%. October marks the third consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in employee wages above 4%.

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH CONTINUES TO BE DRIVEN BY SERVICE SECTOR

In October, service sector employment grew by 66,000, boosting its growth in the last 12 months to 3.2%. According to the most recent statistics, the gross domestic product of the service sector grew 3.2% in 12 months, compared with a growth rate of 0.8% for the goods-producing sector.

Of all industries, health care and social assistance posted the strongest estimated employment growth in October (+29,000). There was also an increase in “other services” (+24,000), an industry that covers a variety of activities, such as dry cleaning and laundry services, electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance, as well as grant-making and giving services. As well, public administration added an estimated 20,000 workers in October, all in Ontario.

In contrast to the growth in the service sector, there has been overall weakness in the goods-producing industries, where employment has edged down 0.5% since the start of the year. So far in 2007, significant losses in manufacturing have been almost completely offset by robust gains in construction and utilities. In October, utilities was the only industry in the goods-producing sector to show signs of strength. Utilities include electric power generation, transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution, and water supply and sewage systems.

BACK-TO-BACK GAINS IN ONTARIO

After slow growth throughout most of 2007, employment grew strongly in Ontario for the second consecutive month, up 32,000 in October, mainly in part time. So far in 2007, employment in Ontario has risen an estimated 1.7%, still below the national average of 2.1%.

October’s employment growth in Ontario was mainly in public administration and “other services”. The growth in public administration was due, in part, to the provincial election, which coincided with the Labour Force Survey reference week.

Quebec’s unemployment rate in October remained at 6.9%, the lowest level in 33 years. So far in 2007, employment has grown 2.2%, spurred on by gains in construction, accommodation and food services, and “other services”. These gains have pushed the employment rate up, bringing it to a new record high of 61.2% in October.

STRONG LABOUR MARKET ACROSS THE WEST

In Manitoba, employment grew 0.6% (+3,600) in October, bringing the increase since the start of 2007 to 2.5%. In October, Manitoba’s employment rate reached an all-time high of 66.8%. The province also had the second lowest unemployment rate in Canada (4.0%).

Although employment in British Columbia showed little change in October, it has grown 2.4% since the start of 2007, mainly due to strong growth in trade. In October, the unemployment rate in the province stood at 4.4%, among the lowest rates in Canada.

Alberta’s employment was little changed in October. However, the province continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3.4%, as well as Canada’s highest employment rate (71.5%).

In Nova Scotia, October’s employment increase (+5,300) was mainly attributable to full-time work. For the first 10 months of 2007, employment has grown mainly in information, culture and recreation, in health care and social assistance, and in professional, scientific and technical services.

OLDER WORKERS LEAD THE WAY

Employment increased by 32,000 among people 55 and over, with the gains distributed equally between men and women. So far in 2007, employment among this group has grown 6.9%, a much faster pace than that for core-age workers 25 to 54 years of age (+1.2%).
The participation rate in October for Canadians aged 55 and over reached an all-time high of 33.8%. This was due in large part to older women, who in October had their highest employment and participation rates in at least three decades.

Employment for men and women in the core-age group increased by an estimated 24,000 in October. Since the beginning of 2007, 70% of the employment increase for this group has been attributed to women. These gains have brought the unemployment rate for these women down to 4.2% in October, more than one percentage point below that of men (5.4%).