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Labour market dynamics since the 2008/2009 recession

Released: 2019-01-29

Each month, data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are highly anticipated because they offer a first glimpse of the general state of the labour market. The number of employed people and the unemployment rate are two indicators that attest to the popularity—and usefulness—of the survey data.

However, it is less well known that behind the net change in employment or unemployment published each month, there are major transitions between the different labour market statuses called "gross flows." In fact, the Canadian labour market is very dynamic.

From January 2007 to September 2018, an average of 6.2% of individuals aged 15 years or older changed their labour force status each month. This represents more than 1.5 million people. An average of 289,000 people, or 1.0% of the working-age population, went from looking for work to finding a job each month.

The article "Labour market dynamics since the 2008/2009 recession," released today in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series, uses data on gross flows created from the LFS to analyze labour market dynamics in Canada.

These data have excellent analytical value because they add depth to the usual measures, providing insight into how changes in employment, unemployment or labour force participation occurred.

During the 2008/2009 recession, gross flows out of employment totalled, on average, 691,000 per month, a significant increase over the 12-month period preceding the recession (629,000 on average). This was due in large part to an increase in the number of people who lost or left their job between two consecutive months (either they were looking for work, or they left the labour force).

Delving further into the data, it can be seen that the probability of going from employed to unemployed rose during this economic shock and remained high for several years thereafter.


The article "Labour market dynamics since the 2008/2009 recession" is now available as part of the Labour Statistics: Research Papers (Catalogue number75-004-M) series.

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 Emmanuelle Bourbeau (613-951-3007;, Labour Statistics Division.

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