Labour Force Survey, August 2012

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After a decline in July, employment rose by 34,000 in August, the result of an increase in part-time work. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.3%.

Chart 1 
Chart 1: Employment

Chart description: Employment

CSV version of the chart

On a year-over-year basis, employment increased by 1.0% or 177,000, with most of the gains occurring in the spring of this year. Virtually all of the increase in the 12-month period was in full-time work. Over the same period, the total number of hours worked rose 0.7%.

Employment rose in Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while it declined in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. There was little change in the other provinces.

In August, there was added employment in transportation and warehousing; professional, scientific and technical services; business, building and other support services as well as in natural resources. At the same time, there were fewer people employed in construction as well as information, culture and recreation.

Employment increased among employees and was little changed among the self-employed in August. On a year-over-year basis, public sector employment increased 1.9% and the number of private sector employees rose 1.0%, while self-employment was unchanged.

In August, there was an increase in employment among people aged 55 and over, while it fell among youths aged 15 to 24.

This summer, the average employment rate from May to August for students aged 15 to 24 was 47.9%, down from 49.1% last summer.

Chart 2 
Unemployment rate
Chart 2: Unemployment rate

Chart description: Unemployment rate

CSV version of the chart

Provincial summary

Employment increased by 33,000 in Quebec, with gains in part-time work. This left overall employment in the province slightly above the level of 12 months earlier. At 7.6% in August, the unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous month.

In August, employment rose by 15,000 in British Columbia, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.3 percentage points to 6.7%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased 2.3%, above the national growth rate of 1.0%.

In Saskatchewan, employment increased by 4,600, bringing gains over the past 12 months to 3.6%, the highest growth rate of all provinces. The increase in employment in August pushed the unemployment rate down 0.6 percentage points to 4.4%, tied with Alberta for the lowest rate among all provinces.

Employment increased by 3,400 in Manitoba in August and the unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.4%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment was up 0.9%.

The number of employed fell by 25,000 in Ontario, leaving employment similar to its level of August 2011. The unemployment rate in the province was 8.0% in August 2012.

Employment up in services

In August, employment increased by 37,000 in transportation and warehousing. Despite this increase, employment in the industry was similar to its level of 12 months earlier.

There were 20,000 more people working in professional, scientific and technical services in August, offsetting the decline in the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, employment was little changed in this industry.

Employment rose by 19,000 in business, building and other support services in August, the second increase in the past three months, bringing employment up 43,000 (+6.4%) over the past 12 months.

Employment increased by 8,800 in natural resources in August. Since August 2011, when employment in the industry was at its most recent low, employment has grown by 17.7%.

Construction employment decreased by 44,000 in August, bringing employment in this industry 2.4% below its level of a year earlier.

Employment declined by 17,000 in information, culture and recreation in August. With losses in four of the past five months, employment in the industry was down 3.2% from its level of August 2011.

More employed women and men aged 55 and over

Following a decline in July, employment among women aged 55 and over increased by 46,000 in August, bringing year-over-year gains to 97,000 (+7.1%). The unemployment rate for this group fell by 0.9 percentage points to 5.2% in August.

The number of employed men aged 55 and over rose by 16,000 in August, the first notable increase in four months. Their unemployment rate was little changed at 5.9%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment for this group has increased by 104,000 (+6.2%).

The robust year-over-year employment increase for both men and women aged 55 and over was in part the result of population aging.

Employment among those aged 25 to 54 was virtually unchanged in August. Employment growth for this group totalled 47,000 or up 0.4% over the previous 12 months.

Employment among youths fell by 22,000 in August, and was down by 72,000 (-2.9%) compared with 12 months earlier. The youth unemployment rate rose by 0.5 percentage points to 14.8% in August.

Summer labour market for students

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 intend to return to school full time in the fall. The published estimates are not seasonally adjusted; therefore, comparisons can only be made on a year-over-year basis.

Compared with last summer, employment rates were down for students of all age groups, and were among the lowest on record. Overall, the average employment rate from May to August for students aged 15 to 24 was 47.9%, down from last summer (49.1%), and the summer of 2009 (48.6%), when student employment was hard hit by the labour market downturn. In contrast, the rates in the summers of 2006 to 2008 averaged 54.1%.

The average unemployment rate over the summer for students aged 20 to 24 was 11.3%, while it was 18.1% for those aged 17 to 19 and 30.2% for students aged 15 to 16.

The average number of hours worked at all jobs during the summer of 2012 by students aged 15 to 24 was 24.2 hours per week, similar to the summer of 2011. Students worked slightly more hours this summer compared with the summer of 2009, when the average workweek was 23.4 hours.

Note to readers

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 (Catalogue number71-001-X, free).

The employment rate is the number of employed persons as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over. The rate for a particular group (for example, youth aged 15 to 24) is the number employed in that group as a percentage of the population for that group.

The unemployment rate is the number unemployed as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed).

The participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed as a percentage of the population. For more detailed information, see the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G, free).

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

Educational services

The LFS seasonal adjustment process removes typical seasonal patterns in the monthly data, according to trends established in previous years. While there have been larger movements in educational services employment in summer months in recent years, there has not been a consistent pattern in the magnitude or direction of these changes.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table282-0001 to 282-0042, CANSIM table282-0047 to 282-0063, CANSIM table282-0069 to 282-0095, CANSIM table282-0100 to 282-0121 and CANSIM table282-0200 to 282-0219.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number3701.

A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X, free), is now available online for the week ending August 18. 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 October 5.

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

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; or May Luong (613-951-6014;, Labour Statistics Division.