Labour Force Survey

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Related subjects

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]
December 2010 (Previous release)

Employment edged up for the second consecutive month in December, with an increase of 22,000. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.6%. Compared with December 2009, employment increased by 2.2% (+369,000), following a decline of 1.1% the previous year.


There were notable employment increases in December in manufacturing; transportation and warehousing; as well as in natural resources. At the same time, there were declines in construction; health care and social assistance; wholesale and retail trade; business building and other support services; as well as agriculture.

Full-time employment was up 38,000 in December, the fourth increase in the past five months. Despite these recent gains, part-time employment has grown faster (+3.4%) than full time (+1.9%) over the past 12 months. Full-time employment accounted for 81% of total employment in December.

Increases in the number of private sector employees in December were partly offset by declines in self-employment.

Among the provinces, Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador saw employment gains in December, while British Columbia posted declines. Employment was little changed in the other provinces.

Note to readers

Following the release of final population estimates from each census, a standard revision is applied to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates. The revised estimates are scheduled to be released on Friday, January 28, 2011, and will include the following:

LFS estimates are currently based on the 2001 Census population estimates. These data will be adjusted to reflect 2006 Census population estimates and will be revised back to 1996.

Industry estimates will be reclassified to the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) from the 2002 NAICS and revised back to 1987.

Geography boundaries will be updated to the 2006 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) rather than the current 2001 SGC. With this change, six new census metropolitan areas (CMAs) will be added and the boundaries of seven existing CMAs will be modified. New CMA tables will be created based on the 2006 census boundaries and will date back to 1996.

Finally, the 2006 National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S) will replace the 2001 NOC-S. This change will not affect the LFS estimates as there were only minor changes to the description of the categories.

Please note that the above-mentioned revisions will have a minor impact on the LFS estimates. However, rates of unemployment, employment and participation are essentially unchanged.

During the revision, CANSIM data for the LFS will not be available from Friday, January 21 to Thursday, January 27, 2011. To facilitate access to the revised data, LFS data on CANSIM will be free from January 28 to February 3, 2011.

LFS estimates are based on a sample, and are therefore subject to sampling variability. Estimates for smaller geographic areas or industries will have more variability. For an explanation of sampling variability of estimates, and how to use standard errors to assess this variability, consult the "Data quality" section of the publication Labour Force Information (71-001-X, free).

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

Unemployment rate

Strong gains in manufacturing and transportation and warehousing

Following a decline of 29,000 the previous month, manufacturing employment increased by 66,000 in December. The bulk of the gains were in Ontario and Quebec and were spread across a number of industries. This follows little overall change in the manufacturing sector in the previous 18 months.

Transportation and warehousing also saw a notable gain in December (+45,000). With this gain, employment in this industry was up 10.8% (+85,000) compared with December 2009.

Employment in natural resources increased by 7,700 in December, bringing growth in the industry to 10.8% (+33,000) over the past 12 months.

Employment in construction fell by 27,000 in December, the first notable decline since July 2009. Despite this decline, construction employment was up 4.8% over the past 12 months.

In December, employment in health care and social assistance declined by 24,000, following gains the previous month. Employment growth in this industry totalled 3.3% (+67,000) from a year earlier.

Employment in wholesale and retail trade fell by 22,000 in December. However, employment in this industry was relatively stable in 2010 (+0.7%).

Business, building and other support services also saw employment losses in December (-18,000). Compared with December 2009, however, employment was up by 8.1% (+50,000).

Agricultural employment fell by 8,000 in December, bringing total losses to 4.2% (-13,000) over the past 12 months.

More people working in the private sector

The number of private sector employees increased by 53,000 in December, while self-employment fell by 38,000. At the same time, public sector employment was little changed.

Over the past 12 months, 332,000 (+3.1%) employees were added to the private sector and 143,000 (+4.2%) to the public sector. The number of self-employed declined by 106,000 (-3.9%) over the same period.

Employment gains in Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador

Employment in Quebec increased by 25,000 in December, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.3 percentage points to 7.6%. With December's gain, Quebec employment was up 102,000 (+2.6%) from a year earlier.

In Ontario, employment increased for the second consecutive month, up 23,000 in December. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 8.1%. With December's increase, the number of workers in Ontario grew by 2.8% (+186,000) from a year earlier, above the national growth rate of 2.2%. Over the 12 months of 2009, Ontario's employment was down 1.8%, the largest decline among all provinces.

Newfoundland and Labrador saw employment increases of 2,500 in December, bringing total employment growth in the province to 4.6% (+9,900) compared with the same month a year earlier, the fastest rate of growth in the country.

Employment in British Columbia fell by 23,000 in December, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.7 percentage points to 7.6%. Compared with December 2009, employment in the province grew by 1.5% (+35,000).

More youths working in December

Following a large decline in the number of 15- to 24-year-olds participating in the labour market in November, youth employment increased by 26,000 in December. Employment was little changed for the other demographic groups.

Compared with December 2009, youth employment was up 1.8% (+42,000), below the overall employment growth of 2.2%. Over the same period, people aged 55 and over saw their employment levels increase by 6.6% (+186,000), of which half was due to aging of the population, as the number of people in this age group grew by 3.3% over the period. While this age group makes up less than a third of the working-age population, it accounted for 50% of the total employment growth over the past 12 months.

At the same time, people aged 25 to 54 saw their employment level grow by 1.2% (+141,000), primarily driven by men (+2.3%), compared with little growth among women (+0.1%).

Quarterly update on 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.

All three territories saw employment gains in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter of 2009.

In the Northwest Territories, employment rose by 1,300 in the fourth quarter of 2010. The unemployment rate also increased by 1.7 percentage points to 7.7%, the result of an increase in the number of people seeking work. The participation rate reached 73.0%, the highest in the country.

In Yukon, employment rose by 1,000 during the three months ending in December 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. This increase pushed the unemployment rate down by 3.5 percentage points to 4.0% in the fourth quarter of 2010, the lowest nationally.

Nunavut saw employment gains of 900 in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The unemployment rate increased by 2.5 percentage points to 15.2%, as there were more people participating in the labour market.

Available on CANSIM: tables 282-0001 to 282-0042, 282-0047 to 282-0064 and 282-0069 to 282-0108.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3701.

A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (71-001-X, free), is now available online for the week ending December 11. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Labour. LAN and bulk prices are available on request. The DVD-ROM Labour Force Historical Review, 2009 (71F0004X, $209), is now available. See How to order products.

Data tables are also now available online. From the Subject module of our website, choose Labour.

The next release of the Labour Force Survey will be on February 4.

For general information or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-873-8788; 613-951-4090; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; or Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627;, Labour Statistics Division.