Labour Force Survey

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May 2011 (Previous release)

Employment rose by 22,000 in May, bringing gains over the previous 12 months to 273,000 (+1.6%). The employment increase in May, combined with a decline in the number of people looking for work, pushed the unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage points to 7.4%.


Employment increased in Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan in May. At the same time, employment declined in Newfoundland and Labrador, while there was little change in the remaining provinces.

Employment gains were in retail and wholesale trade as well as in information, culture and recreation, while there were declines in educational services and manufacturing.

The number of private sector employees and self-employed workers rose in May. At the same time, there were declines among public sector employees.

Full-time employment increased by 33,000 in May. Over the past 12 months, full-time employment rose by 224,000 (+1.6%) while part time was up 50,000 (+1.5%).

Employment was up mainly among men aged 25 to 54, while it changed little among the other demographic groups.

The unemployment rate for students aged 20 to 24, at 15.0%, was lower in May compared with May 2010.

Unemployment rate

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.

Gains driven by retail and wholesale trade

Employment in trade increased by 34,000 in May, offsetting declines in the previous two months. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry was down 0.7% or 19,000.

There were also employment gains in information, culture and recreation (+15,000). Employment in this industry has risen by 41,000 (+5.5%) in the past 12 months.

Following steady increases in the first four months of the year, employment in educational services declined by 27,000 in May. Most of the declines occurred in post-secondary institutions.

Manufacturing employment was down by 23,000, following little change in the previous four months. Despite this decline, employment in this industry has risen by 25,000 or 1.4% since May 2010.

Employment in construction was little changed, although it has increased by 3.3% (+41,000) over the past 12 months.

Despite little change in public administration in May, this industry was up 1.8% over the previous 12 months. Employment gains from 2011 Census activities in May were offset by slight declines in other sectors of the federal administration.

There were employment gains of 37,000 among private sector employees and 30,000 among self-employed workers in May. At the same time, employment fell by 44,000 among public sector employees.

Over the past 12 months, employment in the private sector has grown by 178,000 (+1.6%), compared with 48,000 (+1.4%) in the public sector and 48,000 (+1.8%) among the self-employed.

Increases in Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan

Employment in Quebec rose by 25,000 in May, bringing total gains over the past 12 months to 74,000 (+1.9%). The unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points to 7.3%, the lowest since October 2008.

Employment increased by 8,500 in Alberta. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, down 0.5 percentage points from the previous month. Over the previous 12 months, employment grew by 2.8%, the fastest growth rate in the country.

In Saskatchewan, employment increased by 2,500, yet was little changed compared with May 2010 (+0.2%). The unemployment rate, at 5.0%, was unchanged from the previous month and was the lowest in the country.

Following an increase in April, employment declined by 2,700 in Newfoundland and Labrador in May. At the same time, the unemployment rate rose to 11.9% (+0.8 percentage points). This province has the second fastest employment growth rate over the previous 12 months, up 2.1% (+4,700).

Employment edged down in Ontario in May (-16,000). Over the past 12 months, employment growth at 1.7% (+116,000) was slightly above the national average, and all in full-time work. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.9% in May.

Employment growth primarily among core-aged men

Employment rose by 21,000 among core-aged men (25 to 54 years) in May, while it held steady among the other demographic groups.

Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased at the fastest pace among workers aged 55 and over, with growth of 6.6% (+86,000) among women and 4.1% (+67,000) among men. Over the same period, employment among core-aged men increased by 2.0% (+118,000), while it was little changed for core-aged women and youths.

Student summer employment

From May to August, the Labour Force Survey collects labour market information about young people aged 15 to 24 who were attending school full time in March and who intend to return to school in the fall. The May survey results provide the first indicators of the summer job market, especially for students aged 20 to 24, as students aged 15 to 19 are not yet out of school for the summer. The data for June, July and August will provide further insight into the summer job market. The published estimates are not seasonally adjusted, and therefore comparisons can only be made from one year to another.

The employment rate or the proportion of students aged 20 to 24 who were employed in May was 60.8%, higher than the May 2010 rate of 58.9%. It was also 4.5 percentage points higher than in May 2009 (56.3%), when students were especially affected by the labour market downturn.

The unemployment rate for the students aged 20 to 24 was 15.0% in May, down from 16.5% in May 2010.

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 May 21. 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), 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 July 8.

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 Jeannine Usalcas (613-951-4720;, Labour Statistics Division.