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Annual review of the labour market, 2018

Released: 2019-04-16

Canada's record-low unemployment rate was one of several notable labour market trends in 2018.

While the overall labour force participation rate continued to decrease, in keeping with the aging population, it reached a record high 83.2% among women in the core working ages of 25 to 54. The long-term trend of increasing labour force participation for people aged 55 and older was tempered by a decline among men in this age group. Labour force participation remained below pre-recession levels among youth aged 15 to 24.

Total employment rose by 1.3% (+241,000) in 2018, led by the three most populated provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. In Alberta, employment gains in 2018 were stronger than in 2017, while Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan saw little change in employment.

Employment growth was concentrated among immigrants, and employment rates were up for many demographic groups, including very recent male immigrants, core-aged women and First Nations men living off reserve.

Growth in payroll employment in the goods-producing sectors outpaced the growth of services-producing sectors, led by gains in manufacturing. For the fifth consecutive year, payroll employment was up the most in health care and social assistance, while professional, scientific and technical services recorded the largest employment growth among the 10 largest industrial sectors. The health care and social assistance sector also saw the largest increase in the number of job vacancies.

In 2018, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose by 2.6%, outpacing the 2.0% increase in 2017. Growth in weekly earnings was observed in sectors where employees were predominantly paid by the hour, including retail trade and accommodation and food services, and coincided with increases in the minimum wage in some jurisdictions.

The "Annual review of the labour market, 2018," released today in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series, highlights such key developments by demographic group, province, and industrial sector 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 analysis also provides some insights on the impact of long-term demographic changes on selected major labour market indicators.

  Note to readers

Do you have questions about this data release? You are invited to join our AMA (Ask Me Anything) event on Reddit today, April 16 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time, to discuss labour statistics with our data experts.

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The article "Annual review of the labour market, 2018" is now available online in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series (Catalogue number75-004-M).

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;, Labour Statistics Division.

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