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Labour Force Survey, March 2013

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Released: 2013-04-05

Following an increase the previous month, employment declined by 55,000 in March, all in full time. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment - Description and data table

Chart 1: Employment - Description and data table

Despite the decline in March, employment was 1.2% or 203,000 above the level of 12 months earlier, with the increase mainly in full-time work. Over the same period, the total number of hours worked also rose by 1.2%.

Provincially, employment declined in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, and edged down in Ontario. The only province with an increase was Nova Scotia.

In March, there were fewer people employed in three industries: accommodation and food services, public administration and manufacturing. At the same time, there was little change in the other industries.

There were 85,000 fewer private-sector employees in March, while the number of self-employed rose by 39,000 and the number of public-sector employees was little changed. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of private-sector employees increased by 1.0% or 111,000, while the number of self-employed was up 2.1% or 55,000 as a result of the gains in March. Public-sector employment was little changed over the 12-month period.

Employment in March decreased among people aged 25 to 54, while there was little change among youths and people aged 55 and over.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate - Description and data table
Unemployment rate

Chart 2: Unemployment rate - Description and data table

Provincial summary

Employment in Quebec declined by 17,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 7.7%. Despite this decrease, employment in the province was 1.6% above the level of 12 months earlier, compared with a national growth rate of 1.2%.

Employment in British Columbia was down 15,000, offsetting most of the increase in February. This pushed the unemployment rate up 0.7 percentage points to 7.0%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province was little changed.

In Alberta, there were 11,000 fewer people employed in March, the first notable decline in more than two years. The unemployment rate in the province rose 0.3 percentage points to 4.8%, still one of the lowest in the country. While there were fewer people working in March, Alberta experienced employment growth of 1.7% on a year-over-year basis.

In Ontario, employment edged down by 17,000 in March, following an increase of 35,000 the month before. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.7%, a result of fewer people participating in the labour force. Year-over-year employment growth in the province was 0.8%.

Nova Scotia was the only province with an employment increase in March, up 2,900, following a similar increase the month before. The unemployment rate in the province was 9.5%. Despite the recent gains, employment was little changed compared with 12 months earlier.

While employment in Saskatchewan was little changed in March, the province experienced the strongest year-over-year growth in the country, at 4.6%. The unemployment rate was 3.9% in March, still the lowest among all provinces.

Industry employment

In March, there were notable employment declines in accommodation and food services, public administration and manufacturing.

Employment in accommodation and food services fell by 25,000, offsetting an increase the month before. This left employment in the industry similar to the level of 12 months earlier.

Public administration employment decreased by 24,000 in March, leaving employment in this industry down slightly from 12 months earlier.

The number of workers in manufacturing declined by 24,000 in March, following a similar decrease the previous month. Employment growth in the spring of 2012 was followed by losses since the summer, leaving employment in this industry down 2.8% from 12 months earlier.

Employment declines among people 25 to 54

Among people aged 25 to 54, employment declined by 47,000, equally divided between men and women. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment for this age group was up 0.6% or 68,000.

Employment among those aged 55 and over was little changed in March. On a year-over-year basis, employment among people in this age group rose by 4.2% or 135,000, partly a result of population ageing.

Among youths aged 15 to 24, employment was also little changed in March, while their unemployment rate increased 0.6 percentage points to 14.2%, as more youths searched for work. Employment among youths has been on a slight upward trend since August 2012.

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. The following data are not seasonally adjusted; therefore, comparisons should only be made on a year-over-year basis.

In the first quarter of 2013, employment and the unemployment rates in Yukon and the Northwest Territories were similar to those of the first quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate was 7.6% in Yukon and 8.0% in the Northwest Territories in the first quarter of 2013.

In Nunavut, employment increased by 700 in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same quarter in 2012, and the unemployment rate fell from 15.3% to 11.4% over the same period.

  Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. As a result, monthly estimates will show more variability than trends observed over longer time periods. Estimates for smaller geographic areas or industries also have more variability. For an explanation of sampling variability of estimates and how to use standard errors to assess this variability, consult the 'Estimates quality' section of the publication Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X).

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).

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

Each year, the LFS revises its estimates for the previous three years, using the latest seasonal factors.

A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X), is now available online for the week ending March 16. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Labour.

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

The next release of the Labour Force Survey will be on May 10.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

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.

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