Labour Force Survey, March 2016
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After three months of little change, employment increased by 41,000 (+0.2%) in March, lowering the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points to 7.1%.
With the gains in March, employment grew by 0.2% in the first quarter (+33,000). This was the fourth consecutive quarter with 0.2% employment growth.
In the 12 months to March, employment increased by 130,000 (+0.7%), the result of growth in full-time work. Over the same period, the number of hours worked increased by 1.2%.
In March, employment increased among men and women aged 25 to 54, while there was little change among the other demographic groups.
There were more people employed in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. At the same time, employment declined in Prince Edward Island and was little changed in the other provinces.
Employment increased in health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, professional, scientific and technical services as well as 'other services.' In contrast, there were fewer people employed in manufacturing.
The number of private sector employees increased in March, while there was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.
Adjusted to US concepts, the unemployment rate in Canada was 6.1% in March versus 5.0% in the United States.
More men and women aged 25 to 54 employed
For people aged 25 to 54, employment rose by 40,000 in March, with gains of 22,000 among women and 18,000 among men. However, on a year-over-year basis, employment among 25- to 54-year-olds was little changed. In March, the unemployment rate for men in this age group declined 0.2 percentage points to 6.7%, while for women it was little changed at 5.5%.
For youths aged 15 to 24, employment held steady in March, and the unemployment rate was 13.4%. On a year-over-year basis, youth employment fell by 60,000 (-2.4%), while their population declined by 44,000 (-1.0%).
Employment among people aged 55 and older was little changed in March, and their unemployment rate was 6.0%. In the 12 months to March, employment for this group increased by 149,000 (+4.2%). Employment growth for men and women aged 55 and older has been driven by growth in their population.
In March, employment in Alberta rose by 19,000, driven by increases in retail and wholesale trade, and the unemployment rate fell 0.8 percentage points to 7.1%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province was little changed, but the unemployment rate was up 1.5 percentage points as more people were looking for work. Despite the employment increase in March, the total number of hours worked decreased by 0.7%, continuing on a downward trend that began in early 2015.
Employment in Manitoba increased by 5,500 in March, and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.0% as more people participated in the labour market. This unemployment rate was the lowest among all the provinces. Despite more Manitobans working in March, employment in the province was little changed from 12 months earlier.
In Nova Scotia, employment increased by 3,400 in March. As more people participated in the labour market, the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1%. Despite the increase in March, employment in the province has been on a downward trend since the fall of 2015.
In March, employment rose by 2,800 in Saskatchewan; however, the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 6.2% as more people searched for work. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province was down slightly. Over the same period, the unemployment rate was up 1.7 percentage points—the result of more people looking for work.
Employment in Prince Edward Island declined by 700, and the unemployment rate was 11.0%. In the 12 months to March, employment in the province decreased by 2,300 (-3.1%).
Employment in British Columbia was little changed in March; however, on a year-over-year basis, gains totalled 72,000 or 3.2%—still the fastest growth rate among all the provinces. In March, the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.5%, though it was up 0.6 percentage points compared with a year earlier, as more people searched for work.
In Ontario, employment was also little changed in March, and the unemployment rate stayed at 6.8%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province increased by 86,000 or 1.2%, the second highest rate of growth among the provinces. All of the gains were in full-time work.
There was little change in employment in Quebec on both a monthly and a year-over-year basis. The unemployment rate was 7.5% in March.
In March, employment in health care and social assistance increased by 25,000, bringing total gains to 77,000 (+3.4%) on a year-over-year basis.
There were also more workers in accommodation and food services (+18,000). In the 12 months to March, however, the number of people employed in this industry was down 27,000 (-2.2%).
There were 12,000 more people working in professional, scientific and technical services in March. Compared with the same month a year earlier, gains for the industry totalled 52,000 or 3.8%, the fastest year-over-year growth rate of all industries.
In 'other services,' such as those related to civic and professional organizations, as well as repair and maintenance, employment increased by 9,900. In the 12 months to March, however, the number of people working in this industry was little changed.
In contrast, employment in manufacturing decreased by 32,000 in March, with losses in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry was little changed, as gains in Ontario and Nova Scotia were offset by losses in Alberta.
The number of employees in the private sector increased by 65,000 in March, bringing year-over-year gains to 109,000 (+0.9%). Both on a monthly and year-over-year basis, there was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.
Canada–United States comparison
Adjusted to US concepts, the unemployment rate in Canada was 6.1% in March versus 5.0% in the United States. Compared with March 2015, the unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points in Canada, while it declined by 0.5 percentage points in the United States.
The labour force participation rate in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) was 65.8% in March, and 63.0% in the United States. Compared with March 2015, the labour force participation rate in Canada edged down 0.1 percentage points, while in the United States, it increased by 0.3 percentage points.
In March, the US-adjusted employment rate in Canada stood at 61.8%, compared with 59.9% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate in Canada declined by 0.2 percentage points, while in the United States, it increased by 0.6 percentage points.
For further information on Canada–US comparisons, see "Measuring Employment and Unemployment in Canada and the United States – A comparison."
Quarterly update for the territories
The Labour Force Survey also collects labour market information on the territories. This information is produced monthly in the form of three-month moving averages.
In the first quarter of 2016, employment in Yukon was little changed compared with the fourth quarter of 2015. Over the same period, the unemployment rate was also little changed at 5.4%.
Employment in the Northwest Territories increased by 1,000 in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell 2.6 percentage points to 7.3%.
Employment in Nunavut rose by 300 in the first quarter compared with the last quarter of 2015. Over the same period, the unemployment rate was little changed at 17.4% as more people participated in the labour market.
Note to readers
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for March are for the week of March 13 to 19.
The 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. For more information, see "Interpreting Monthly Changes in Employment from the Labour Force Survey." 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 "Data quality" section of the publication Labour Force Information (). 71-001-X
This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level.
The LFS estimates are the first in a series of labour market indicators released by Statistics Canada, which includes indicators from programs such as the Survey of Payroll Employment, Earnings and Hours (SEPH), Employment Insurance statistics, and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey. To better understand the conceptual differences between employment measures from the LFS and SEPH, refer to section 8 of the Guide to the Labour Force Survey.
The employment rate is the number of employed people as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and older. The rate for a particular group (for example, youths 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 of 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.
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 Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.
Chart 1 shows trend-cycle data on employment. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series, which provides information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. These data are available in CANSIM table 282-0087 for the national level employment series. For more information, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
The next release of the LFS will be on May 6.
A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (71-001-X), is now available for the week ending March 19. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Labour.
More information about the concepts and use of the Labour Force Survey is available online in an updated issue of the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (71-543-G), from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.
Summary tables are now available online. From the Browse by subject module of our website, choose Labour.
For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).
To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; email@example.com) or Andrew Fields (613-951-3551; firstname.lastname@example.org), Labour Statistics Division.