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Labour Force Survey, February 2018

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Released: 2018-03-09

Employment was little changed in February (+15,000). The unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 5.8%.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 283,000 or 1.5%. All of this increase was attributable to gains in full-time work (+283,000 or +1.9%), while part-time employment was unchanged. Over the same period, hours worked rose by 3.2%.


In February, employment increased for both men and women in the core working age group (25 to 54), while there was little change for youth aged 15 to 24 and for people aged 55 and older.

Employment increased in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while it decreased in Saskatchewan. There was little change in the other provinces.

Employment gains were observed in several industries, led by health care and social assistance. At the same time, employment declined in a number of other industries, including wholesale and retail trade, and manufacturing.

The number of employees increased in the public sector, while it held steady in the private sector. The number of self-employed workers decreased.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

More core-aged people working

Among the core-aged population, employment rose by 41,000 (+0.3%) in February. Increases were similar for both men (+22,000 or +0.3%) and women (+19,000 or +0.3%). The unemployment rate for the core-age group was 4.9% for the third consecutive month. On a year-over-year basis, the unemployment rate for core-aged men and women was down 0.6 percentage points. Over the same period, employment for core-aged men increased by 99,000 (+1.6%), while it was virtually unchanged for women in this age group.

Employment was little changed for both men and women aged 55 and older. The unemployment rate among older women fell by 0.3 percentage points to 4.3%, while it was little changed for older men at 5.7%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this age group increased by 111,000 (+6.5%) for women and by 48,000 (+2.3%) for men.

For youth aged 15 to 24, both the level of employment and the unemployment rate were little changed in February. On a year-over-year basis, their unemployment rate declined by 1.3 percentage points to 11.1% as fewer youth searched for work.

Employment little changed in most provinces

Employment increased by 5,100 (+1.5%) in New Brunswick in February, driven by gains in full-time work. The unemployment rate fell 0.9 percentage points to 8.2%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province was little changed.

In Nova Scotia, employment rose by 2,800 (+0.6%), entirely due to increases in full-time work. The unemployment rate was little changed at 7.9%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province increased by 10,000 (+2.3%).

Employment fell by 2,900 (-0.5%) in Saskatchewan, and the unemployment rate was 5.6%. On a year-over-year basis, employment declined by 8,200 (-1.4%).

Overall employment in British Columbia changed little in February, as full-time declines were mostly offset by part-time increases. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province rose by 40,000 (+1.6%), entirely due to increases in part-time work.

In both Ontario and Quebec, employment was little changed in February. The unemployment rate was 5.5% in Ontario and 5.6% in Quebec. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment was up by 114,000 (+1.6%) in Ontario and by 74,000 (+1.8%) in Quebec. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points in Ontario and by 0.8 percentage points in Quebec.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Unemployment rate by province, February 2018
Unemployment rate by province, February 2018

Industry perspective

Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 25,000 in February. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment was little changed.

In the "other services" industry, employment rose by 17,000 in the month, but was little changed on a year-over-year basis. "Other services" include services such as repair and maintenance.

Continuing an upward trend that began in early 2016, the number of people employed in transportation and warehousing increased by 13,000 in February. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry grew by 48,000 (+5.1%).

Employment increased by 12,000 in educational services, while it changed little compared with February 2017.

In public administration, employment rose by 9,000 in February, little changed from 12 months earlier.

There were 7,600 more people working in natural resources in February, bringing year-over-year employment growth to 11,000 (+3.4%). Employment in this industry has been trending upwards since the second half of 2016.

Employment in wholesale and retail trade declined by 22,000 in February. Despite this decrease, employment was up 36,000 (+1.3%) on a year-over-year basis.

In manufacturing, employment declined by 17,000 in February, but increased by 71,000 (+4.2%) compared with 12 months earlier.

The number of people working in professional, scientific and technical services was down by 12,000. On a year-over-year basis, there was little change in employment in this industry.

The finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing industry saw a decrease in employment of 12,000 in February, but no change from 12 months earlier.

The number of public sector employees rose by 50,000 in February, following a decline in the previous month. The number of private sector employees was little changed. On a year-over-year basis, the number of employees increased in both the private (+99,000 or +0.8%) and public (+92,000 or +2.5%) sectors.

Self-employment declined by 43,000 in February. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of self-employed workers increased by 92,000 (+3.3%).

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

The Labour Force Survey is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goals:

  Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for February are for the week of February 11 to 17.

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 the 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).

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 Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), Employment Insurance Statistics, and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey. For more information on the conceptual differences between employment measures from the LFS and SEPH, refer to section 8 of the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G).

The employment rate is the number of employed people as a percentage of the population aged 15 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 people as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed).

The participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed people as a percentage of the population.

Full-time employment consists of persons who usually work 30 hours or more per week at their main or only job.

Part-time employment consists of persons who usually work less than 30 hours per week at their main or only job.

In general, month-to-month or year-to-year changes in the number of people employed in an age group reflect the net effect of two factors: (1) the number of people who changed employment status between reference periods; and (2) the number of employed people who entered or left the age group (including through aging, death or migration) between reference periods.

Seasonal adjustment

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted estimates, which facilitate 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.

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on April 6.


A more detailed summary, Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X), is now available for the week ending February 17.

More information about the concepts and use of the Labour Force Survey is available online in the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G).

The updated Labour Market Indicators dashboard (Catalogue number71-607-X2017001) is available. This interactive dashboard provides easy, customizable access to key labour market indicators. Users can now configure an interactive map and chart showing labour force characteristics at the national, provincial or census metropolitan area level.

The product Labour Market Indicators, by province, territory and economic region, unadjusted for seasonality (Catalogue number71-607-X2017002) is also available. This dynamic web application provides access to Statistics Canada's labour market indicators for Canada, by province, territory and economic region and allows users to view a snapshot of key labour market indicators, observe geographical rankings for each indicator using an interactive map and table, and easily copy data into other programs.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free: 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Martha Patterson (613-299-3942;, Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627;, or Client Services (toll-free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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