The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Labour Force Survey, March 2019

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Released: 2019-04-05

Following increases in January and February, employment held steady in March. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8%.

In the first quarter of 2019, employment rose by 116,000 (+0.6%).

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 332,000 (+1.8%), with gains in both full- (+204,000) and part-time (+128,000) work. Over the same period, total hours worked rose by 0.9%.

To explore the most recent results from the Labour Force Survey in an interactive format, visit the "Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app."

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment


Employment increased in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, while it was little changed in the remaining provinces.

More people were working in the finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing industry, and in public administration. At the same time, employment declined in health care and social assistance; in business, building and other support services; and in accommodation and food services.

The number of employees held steady in March in both the public and private sectors. Self-employment was also virtually unchanged.

Both men and women aged 55 and older posted employment gains in March, while core-aged women experienced declines. At the same time, employment held steady for core-aged men and for youth.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

Employment up in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

In Saskatchewan, employment increased by 3,900 in March and the unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage points to 4.9%—the lowest rate since August 2015. On a year-over-year basis, employment gains in the province totalled 9,300 (+1.6%).

Employment in New Brunswick rose by 3,100, while the unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points to 7.9%. Employment in the province has risen by 5,300 (+1.5%) since March 2018.

In Prince Edward Island, 2,000 more people were employed in March, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.4 percentage points to 8.9%. Year over year, employment gains in the province totalled 1,700 (+2.3%).

Following two consecutive monthly increases, employment in Ontario held steady in March. As a result of more people looking for work, the unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 5.9%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province was up 2.4% or 175,000, mostly in full-time work.

In Alberta, employment overall was little changed in March as gains in full-time work were offset by losses in part-time work. With fewer people seeking jobs, the unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points to 6.9%. Employment in the province was virtually unchanged compared with March 2018.

Employment in Quebec was little changed in March, both on a monthly and year-over-year basis. The unemployment rate was 5.2%.

In British Columbia, employment held steady in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7%. Year over year, 79,000 (+3.2%) more people were employed.

Industry overview

Employment rose by 13,000 in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing in March, bringing year-over-year gains to 22,000 (+1.9%). Most of the increase in March was in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.

In public administration, employment increased for the third month in a row, up 9,600 in March. The majority of this increase was in British Columbia and Alberta. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was up 34,000 (+3.5%) at the national level.

In health care and social assistance, employment fell by 20,000, with most of the decrease in Quebec and British Columbia. Despite the monthly decline, national employment in this industry was up 44,000 (+1.8%) from 12 months earlier.

Business, building and other support services also recorded a decrease in employment in March (-14,000), with the decline attributable to Ontario. On a year-over-year basis, employment was up 40,000 (+5.3%) at the Canada level.

Employment in accommodation and food services declined for the third consecutive month, down 13,000 in March, with most of the decrease occurring in Quebec. Compared with 12 months earlier, national employment in this industry was little changed.

The number of employees in the public and private sectors was little changed in March. On a year-over-year basis, the number of private-sector employees was up 304,000 (+2.5%), while public-sector employment was little changed. Self-employment held steady both on a monthly and year-over-year basis.

Employment up for those aged 55 and older, down for core-aged women

More people aged 55 and older were employed in March (+29,000), with the gains evenly split between men and women. The unemployment rate for this age group was unchanged at 5.5%. Consistent with a long-standing trend, year-over-year employment growth (+131,000 or +3.3%) for this age group continued to outpace its population growth (+2.7%).

For women in the core working ages of 25 to 54, employment fell by 48,000 in March, and the unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 4.7%. Despite the monthly decrease, employment for core-aged women grew by 96,000 (+1.6%) on a year-over-year basis.

While little changed in March, employment for core-aged men was up 83,000 (+1.3%) from 12 months earlier. Their unemployment rate was also little changed at 4.9% in March.

After two consecutive monthly increases, youth employment held steady in March, and their unemployment rate was 10.7%. Compared with March 2018, youth employment was relatively unchanged.

Quarterly update for the territories

In the first quarter of 2019, employment in Nunavut declined by 600, following little change in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the unemployment rate stood at 14.8%.

In Yukon, employment was little changed in the first quarter, and the unemployment rate was 4.1%.

Employment was also little changed in the Northwest Territories, and the unemployment rate was 7.0%.

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nation's 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 March are for the week of March 10 to 16.

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.

Total hours worked refers to the number of hours actually worked at the main job by the respondent during the reference week, including paid and unpaid hours. These hours reflect temporary decreases or increases in work hours (for example, hours lost due to illness, vacation, holidays, or weather; or more hours worked due to overtime).

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.

To align with priorities established by the Gender Results Framework, new indicators have been added to tables 14-10-0340-02, 14-10-0335-02, 14-10-0335-03 and 14-10-0327-03, detailing Labour Force Survey characteristics by gender. These new indicators highlight the differences in employment characteristics between women and men, such as the wage gap by occupation, the proportion employed by occupation, and the proportion working full-time or part-time jobs.

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 for the national and provincial employment series in table 14-10-0287-01 and for national employment by industry in table 14-10-0355-01. 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 May 10.

In the coming months, the LFS article in The Daily will be enhanced to make greater use of data visualization.


Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X), is now available for the week ending March 16.

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 product "Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app" (Catalogue number14200001) is now available. This interactive visualization application provides seasonally adjusted estimates available by province, sex, age group and industry. Historical estimates going back five years are also included for monthly employment changes and unemployment rates. The interactive application allows users to quickly and easily explore and personalize the information presented. Combine multiple provinces, sexes and age groups to create your own labour market domains of interest.

The product "Labour Market Indicators, by census metropolitan area, seasonally adjusted" (Catalogue number71-607-X) is also 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-X) 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 Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627; or Martha Patterson (613-299-3942;, Labour Statistics Division.

Date modified: