MRO Magazine

Canada’s employment rate stabilizes overall as Alberta gains

Ottawa, ON -- Following a large increase in November 2009, employment was unchanged in December 2009 and the u...


Human Resources

January 11, 2010
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — Following a large increase in November 2009, employment was unchanged in December 2009 and the unemployment rate remained at 8.5%. In the past nine months, employment has stabilized but remains 323,000 (-1.9%) below the October 2008 peak.

 

In December, there were a number of offsetting changes by industry. Employment rose in health care and social assistance, as well as in professional, scientific and technical services. The largest declines were in transportation and warehousing; business, building and other support services; and public administration.

 

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In recent months, a number of industries have contributed to the stabilization in employment. A notable shift has occurred in construction, which had been on a downward trend and is up 30,000 since March.

 

There was a decrease in public sector employment in December, while the number of self-employed workers was up and the number of private sector employees was unchanged. Since the employment peak of October 2008, the number of self-employed increased. However, the number of people working as employees fell, especially in the private sector, where signs of stabilization have only emerged recently.

 

In December, employment increased in Alberta, while it declined in Manitoba and New Brunswick. In recent months, employment in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia has been on a slight upward trend.

 

Employment for women aged 25 to 54 declined by 24,000 in December. These losses were offset by small gains among the other major demographic groups.

 

Compared with one year ago, average hourly wages rose by 2.4% in December, similar to the year-over-year increase in November but much slower than earlier in 2009.

 

While employment in December was virtually unchanged compared with the spring of 2009, hours worked have increased 2.2% since April. More recently, full-time employment has also begun an upward trend, although it was unchanged in December.

 

More health care and social assistance workers but fewer in transportation

 

A number of industries have contributed to the employment stabilization since March, with gains in construction; finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; as well as professional, scientific and technical services. Over the same period, there were continued losses in manufacturing, albeit at a slower pace, as well as in transportation and warehousing and business, building and other support services.

 

A few industries were less affected by the employment downturn, especially health care and social assistance, where growth has been observed since October 2008.

 

In December, employment continued to increase in health care and social assistance (+35,000) as well as in professional, scientific and technical services (+33,000).

 

Employment continued its downward trend in December in transportation and warehousing (-24,000) and in business, building and other support services (-23,000).

 

Employment also fell in public administration (-22,000) and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-17,000) in December.

 

Declines in public sector employment

 

December saw a decrease in public sector employment (-22,000). This decline was offset by an increase in self-employment while the number of private sector employees was unchanged.

 

Despite December’s decline, the number of public sector employees has trended up in the past nine months (+1.7%). Over the same period, employment among the self-employed rose by 3.3% while there was a decrease of 1.0% for private sector employees.

 

Employment up in Alberta

 

In Alberta, employment rose by 14,000 in December, a similar increase as November. Since March 2009, employment in the province has stabilized (+0.3%), a contrast to the pronounced decline of 2.4% observed since the employment peak in October 2008.

 

While employment in Ontario edged down in December, a shift in the trend has also occurred, with the number of workers little changed (-0.4%) over the last nine months of 2009. This contrasts with substantial employment losses totalling 171,000 (-2.5%) from October 2008 to March 2009, as manufacturing employment fell steeply over this period.

 

In Manitoba, employment declined by 4,600 in December, offsetting the increase in November. At 5.7%, the unemployment rate in December remained among the lowest of all provinces.

 

Employment in New Brunswick fell by 3,600 in December. A similar decline in the number of people in the labour force dampened the increase in the unemployment rate, as it edged up from 8.8% in November to 8.9% in December.

 

In December, employment was little changed in Quebec. However, an increase in labour force participation pushed the unemployment rate in the province up 0.3 percentage points to 8.4%.

 

Fewer core-aged women working

 

The only demographic group with a notable employment change in December was women aged 25 to 54, down 24,000. Despite this decrease, employment for core-aged women has been trending up since the summer.

 

In the past nine months, employment has stabilized for core-aged men, whereas employment for youth continued to decline over the summer months and has since changed little. In contrast, the number of workers aged 55 and over has increased by 4.7% over the last nine months of 2009.

 

Quarterly update on the territories

 

The Labour Force Survey also collects labour market information about the territories. This information is produced monthly in the form of three-month moving averages. Not all estimates are seasonally adjusted, therefore, comparisons should only be made on a year-over-year basis.

 

In the last quarter of 2009, the number of people working in the Northwest Territories fell by 1,500 compared with the same quarter of 2008 and the unemployment rate was 6.0%, the lowest among the three territories.

 

Employment in the Yukon fell by 900 over the same period and the unemployment rate reached 7.5% in the final quarter of 2009.

 

In Nunavut, employment was little changed for the last three months of 2009 compared with the same period a year ago and the unemployment rate stood at 12.7%.

 

The next release of the Labour Force Survey will be on February 5, 2010.