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Labour Force Survey, September 2019

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Released: 2019-10-11

Employment rose by 54,000 in September, driven by gains in full-time work. The unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage points to 5.5%.

In the third quarter, employment increased by 111,000, or 0.6%, similar to the 0.7% growth rate observed in the second quarter.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 456,000, or 2.4%. Over the same period, total hours worked were up 1.3%.

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

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate


In September, employment increased in Ontario and Nova Scotia, while it held steady in the other provinces.

Growth in employment was concentrated among both men and women in the core working ages of 25 to 54.

There were more people working in health care and social assistance, as well as in accommodation and food services. At the same time, there were declines in information, culture and recreation, and in natural resources.

The number of self-employed workers increased, as did the number of employees in the public sector.

Employment growth concentrated in Ontario

Employment in Ontario rose by 41,000 in September, mostly in full-time work. The unemployment rate in the province declined 0.3 percentage points to 5.3%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Ontario grew by 253,000 (+3.5%).

In Nova Scotia, employment rose by 3,200, all in full-time work, and the unemployment rate declined 0.7 percentage points to 7.2%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province grew by 10,000 (+2.2%).

While employment was little changed in all other provinces in September, the unemployment rate fell in Newfoundland and Labrador (down 1.6 percentage points to 11.5%), Alberta (down 0.6 percentage points to 6.6%) and Manitoba (down 0.6 percentage points to 5.0%).

Quarterly update for the territories

The Labour Force Survey collects labour market data in the territories, produced in the form of three-month moving averages.

Following two consecutive quarters of little change, employment in the Northwest Territories increased by an estimated 600 people in the third quarter. The unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%.

In Yukon, employment increased for the second consecutive quarter, up by an estimated 400 people in the third quarter. The unemployment rate declined 1.3 percentage points to 2.7%.

Employment in Nunavut held steady in the third quarter, following an increase in the previous quarter. The unemployment rate was little changed at 13.7%.

Notable employment gains among core-aged men and women

For men in the core working ages of 25 to 54, employment rose by 36,000 in September. Their unemployment rate declined 0.5 percentage points to 4.4%, the lowest rate since September 1979. On a year-over-year basis, employment for this group grew by 134,000 (+2.1%).

Among core-aged women, employment rose by 33,000, the largest gain for this group since January 2017. Their unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points to 4.2%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment for core-aged women was up by 78,000 (+1.3%).

Employment was virtually unchanged for people aged 55 and older, and their unemployment rate remained at 4.9%. Compared with September 2018, employment for this group increased by 177,000, or 4.4%.

For youth aged 15 to 24, employment held steady, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 11.9%. On a year-over-year basis, youth employment was up 68,000 (+2.8%).

Industry perspective

Employment in health care and social assistance rose by 30,000, continuing an upward trend that began in April. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry grew by 108,000 (+4.5%).

Following declines in the first half of 2019, employment in accommodation and food services grew by 23,000 in September, bringing employment in this industry to a level similar to that observed 12 months earlier.

The number of people employed in information, culture and recreation fell by 37,000 in September. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was virtually unchanged.

Employment in natural resources declined by 7,000, continuing a downward trend that began in June. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry decreased by 24,000 (-6.8%).

Growth in self-employment and public sector employees

The number of self-employed workers rose by 42,000 in September, continuing an upward trend observed since May. On a year-over-year basis, self-employment gains totalled 106,000 (+3.7%).

In the public sector, the number of employees increased by 33,000. Compared with 12 months earlier, public sector employment grew by 67,000 (+1.8%).

While virtually unchanged in September, the number of private sector employees was up by 283,000 (+2.3%) on a year-over-year basis.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to U.S. concepts, the unemployment rate in Canada was 4.4% in September, compared with 3.5% in the United States. Compared with 12 months earlier, the unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points in Canada and 0.2 percentage points in the United States.

The labour force participation rate in Canada (adjusted to U.S. concepts) was 65.5% in September, compared with 63.2% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage points in Canada, while it was up 0.5 percentage points in the United States.

The U.S.-adjusted employment rate in Canada was 62.7% in September, compared with 61.0% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose by 0.6 percentage points both in Canada and in the United States.

For more information on Canada–United States comparisons, see "Measuring Employment and Unemployment in Canada and the United States – A comparison."

Sustainable development goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementing 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 sustainable development goals. This release will be used to help measure the following goals:

  Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for September are for the week of September 15 to 21.

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 the 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 update concepts related to duration of unemployment, seasonally adjusted data and standard errors have been added to table 14-10-0342-01, detailing duration of unemployment categories by sex and age group. Three new duration of unemployment categories (14 to 26 weeks, less than 27 weeks, 52 weeks or more) have been added to the table, replacing previous categories in archived table 14-10-0056-01. These new categories align with those used in the Employment Insurance program and provide better insight on duration of unemployment characteristics. Two new indicators (percentage unemployed less than 27 weeks, percentage unemployed 27 weeks or more) have also been added, as the latter can be used as an indicator of long-term unemployment.

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 November 8.


Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X) is now available for the week ending September 21.

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 province and 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 Andrew Fields (613-951-3551; or Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750;, Centre for Labour Market Information.

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