Labour Force Survey

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December 2011 (Previous release)

Following two months of declines, employment rose slightly in December, up 18,000. The unemployment rate edged up to 7.5% as more people participated in the labour market. Over the past 12 months, employment growth totalled 1.2% (+199,000), with nearly all of the gains in the first half of the year.



Chart description: Employment

The employment growth of 1.2% from December 2010 to December 2011 followed an increase of 1.8% between December 2009 and December 2010.

In December, an increase of 43,000 in part-time work was partially offset by a decline of 26,000 in full-time employment. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of part-time workers was little changed, while full-time employment was up 1.5% (+208,000). Over the same period, the total number of hours worked increased by 1.4%.

Among the provinces, employment increased in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in December. In contrast, employment declined in Quebec, while there was little change in the other provinces.

Note to readers

Annual average estimates for 2011 are now available on CANSIM (tables 282-0001 to 282-0121).

The 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.

Statistics Canada is moving to one release time, 8:30 a.m., for all data releases in The Daily. This will mean a change in the release time for the LFS, which is currently 7:00 a.m. This change will be implemented with the release of LFS data on April 5, 2012.


Seasonally adjusted estimates from the LFS will be revised using the latest seasonal factors, going back three years (January 2009 onwards). The revised data will be available on CANSIM (tables 282-0087 to 282-0094, 282-0100, 282-0116 and 282-0117) on January 27, 2012.

There were notable employment gains in manufacturing for the month, while there were declines in utilities. All other industries showed little employment change.

There were 31,000 more self-employed workers in December. Compared with 12 months earlier, self-employment was up 2.0%, while the number of private sector employees rose 1.3%, and the number of public sector workers was unchanged.

Employment increased in December among people aged 55 and over. At the same time, there was a decline among youths aged 15 to 24, and little change for people aged 25 to 54.

Unemployment rate

 Unemployment rate

Chart description: Unemployment rate

Manufacturing employment up in December

Following declines in recent months, employment in manufacturing increased by 30,000 in December. At the same time, employment was down 7,200 in utilities, and was little changed in the other industries.

Since December 2010, overall employment in the goods sector has changed little. While there was notable growth in natural resources (+7.5%) and construction (+3.1%), there were offsetting declines in utilities (-9.5%) and manufacturing (-2.8%).

Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the service sector was up 1.5% (+194,000). Over this period, there was notable growth in accommodation and food services (+6.2%); professional, scientific and technical services (+6.0%); "other services" (+4.3%); and health care and social assistance (+2.9%). At the same time, there were declines in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-2.8%).

Provincial summary

Employment in British Columbia rose by 11,000 in December. Over the previous 12 months, employment in the province grew 1.4% (+32,000), slightly above the national average of 1.2%.

Nova Scotia's employment increased for a second consecutive month in December, up 4,300. The unemployment rate fell 0.8 percentage points to 7.8%, the lowest since October 2008. Over the past 12 months, employment has risen 2.3% (+11,000) in the province.

In December, employment was up 3,200 in Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing growth over the previous 12 months to 1.9% (+4,300).

In Saskatchewan, employment rose by 3,100. Employment in the province was up 0.7% (+3,700) compared with December 2010.

Employment increased by 2,900 in New Brunswick, returning to its level of 12 months earlier.

In Ontario, employment edged up by 16,000, bringing growth since December 2010 to 1.4% (+91,000). The unemployment rate in the province was 7.7% in December, down 0.2 percentage points from a month earlier.

Employment in Quebec decreased for a third consecutive month, down 26,000 in December. As a result, the unemployment rate rose 0.7 percentage points to 8.7%. Compared with a year earlier, employment in Quebec was down 1.3% (-51,000).

While employment in Alberta was little changed in December, it grew 4.9% (+99,000) over the year, entirely in full-time work.

Employment gains among older workers

In December, employment grew by 24,000 among people aged 55 and over. Employment for this age group was up 3.4% (+102,000) compared with 12 months earlier. This increase was almost entirely due to the aging of the population, as the number of people aged 55 and over grew by 3.2% over the period.

Employment among youths aged 15 to 24 declined for the third consecutive month, down 17,000 in December. With this decline, youth employment was 12,000 below its level of 12 months earlier (-0.5%).

Employment among people aged 25 to 54 was little changed in December, and growth for this group was 0.9% (+109,000) compared with December 2010.

Quarterly update for 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.

Employment in Yukon rose by 1,500 (+8.4%) from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the same period in 2011. Employment was little changed in both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the unemployment rate was 4.9% in Yukon, 7.9% in the Northwest Territories and 14.9% in Nunavut.

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 December 10. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Labour.

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 more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (613-951-8116 or toll-free 1-800-263-1136;, Communications Division.

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Danielle Zietsma (613-951-4243; or Jason Gilmore (613-951-7118;, Labour Statistics Division.