Labour Force Survey

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February 2011 (Previous release)

Employment edged up in February (+15,000), bringing total gains over the past three months to 115,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8%. Over the past 12 months, employment has risen by 1.9% (+322,000).


Part-time employment rose by 39,000 in February, partly offset by a decline in full-time work. Over the past 12 months, part-time employment has grown by 5.1% (+166,000), while full time increased by 1.1% (+156,000).

There were small gains spread across a number of industries in February, led by health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services. At the same time, there were declines in business, building and other support services and in public administration.

In February, the number of self-employed workers increased by 26,000, while the number of private sector employees edged down and public sector employment changed little. Over the past 12 months, however, self-employment edged down 0.6%, while the pace of growth for private sector employees matched that of the public sector (+2.4%).

Note to readers

Labour Force Survey (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.

Alberta was the only province with a notable employment gain in February, up 14,000. At the same time, employment declined in Saskatchewan (-3,300). There was little change in all other provinces.

Employment for youths aged 15 to 24 increased by 16,000 in February. There was little change for the other major demographic groups.

Unemployment rate

Employment up slightly in health care and social assistance and accommodation and food services

The number of health care and social assistance workers rose by 18,000 in February, following a similar increase the month before. This brought employment growth in the industry to 87,000 (+4.3%) over the past 12 months.

In February, there was also an increase in the number of workers in accommodation and food services (+15,000). Despite this increase, employment in this industry has fallen by 44,000 over the past 12 months.

Following sizeable gains at the end of 2010, manufacturing employment held steady over the first two months of 2011. Employment in the industry was up 2.9% (+50,000) from February 2010.

Employment in business, building and other support services decreased by 35,000 in February, offsetting an increase of similar magnitude the month before. This leaves employment in the industry at about the same level as a year ago.

Employment in public administration was down by 14,000 in February, offsetting most of the increase in January. Despite this decline, the number of workers in public administration has grown by 38,000 since February 2010.

More workers in Alberta

Employment in Alberta increased for the second consecutive month, up 14,000 in February. As a result, the unemployment rate edged down by 0.2 percentage points to 5.7%.

Compared with February 2010, when Alberta was near its employment-low following the labour market downturn, employment has grown by 3.4% (+68,000), well above the national rate of 1.9%. Several industries contributed to the year-over-year growth for the province, including manufacturing, natural resources, and professional, scientific and technical services.

Following an increase of 78,000 over the previous three months, employment in Ontario edged down in February. The unemployment rate also edged down to 8.0%, the result of fewer people participating in the labour force. The number of workers in Ontario has risen by 2.1% (+138,000) over the past 12 months.

Employment in Quebec was little changed in February, leaving employment growth in the province over the past 12 months at 2.2% (+86,000). The unemployment rate in February was 7.7%.

While there was little employment change in British Columbia in February, the unemployment rate for the province increased 0.6 percentage points to 8.8%, the result of more people entering the labour force in search of work.

Saskatchewan was the only province with a notable decline in employment in February, down 3,300. While this pushed the unemployment rate in the province up 0.3 percentage points to 5.7%, it remained among the lowest in the country. The decline in the number of workers leaves employment in the province at the same level observed in February 2010.

Youth employment rises in February

The number of employed 15- to 24- year-olds increased by 16,000 in February, all in part-time work. Their unemployment rate edged down to 14.3%. Over the past 12 months, employment for youths has risen by 1.1% (+26,000).

In February, there was little employment change among men and women aged 25 to 54 and 55 and over. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment growth was fastest among women aged 55 and over (+8.0%), followed by men in the same age group (+4.6%). Over the same period, men aged 25 to 54 experienced growth of 2.0%, while employment for women in that same age group was unchanged.

Available on CANSIM: tables 282-0001 to 282-0042, 282-0047 to 282-0063, 282-0069 to 282-0095 and 282-0100 to 282-0121.

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 February 19. 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, 2010 (71F0004X, $209), will be available at the end of March. 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 April 8.

For more 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 Jason Gilmore (613-951-7118;, Labour Statistics Division.