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Annual review of the labour market, 2017

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Released: 2018-04-24

The article "Annual review of the labour market, 2017," released today in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series, analyses the Canadian labour market in 2017 using a combination of major indicators from the Labour Force Survey; the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours; the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey; and Employment Insurance statistics. The focus is on national trends, as well as on key provincial and industrial sector changes.

In general, consistent signals across key labour market indicators pointed to a tightening of the labour market, including the fastest total employment growth in a decade and a downward trend in the national unemployment rate. At the same time, average weekly earnings increased notably, the number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries declined, and the job vacancy rate increased. All of these changes coincided with stronger economic growth, as the real gross domestic product grew 3.0% in 2017, following growth of 1.4% in 2016.

Employment growth was spread across several sectors, led by health care and social assistance. At the same time, there was some resurgence from goods-producing sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction. Employment increased faster among public sector employees, compared with private sector employees and the self-employed.

Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island showed the strongest rate of employment growth in 2017. In contrast, the labour market in Newfoundland and Labrador showed notable declines, although earnings remained strong. Despite trending downward throughout 2017, the unemployment rate in Alberta remained relatively high compared with three years earlier. Alberta lacked the typical strength in employment and earnings growth observed prior to the oil price shock in 2014.

Employment growth outpaced population growth among all major demographic groups, with record-high participation rates for the core age population (25 to 54 years) and for people aged 55 and older, driven mostly by women. Despite relatively strong employment growth among youth aged 15 to 24, their participation rate was little changed in 2017. There was also strong employment growth among Aboriginal people and recent immigrants.

Several longer-term labour market trends continued in 2017, including increasing employment among older workers, a decline in involuntary part-time work, and an increase in temporary employment.

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The article "Annual review of the labour market, 2017" is now available online in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series (Catalogue number75-004-M).

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To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Andrew Fields (613-951-3551;, Martha Patterson (613-299-3942; or Client Services (toll-free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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