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Labour Force Survey, October 2019

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Released: 2019-11-08

Following two consecutive months of growth, employment held steady in October. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5%.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 443,000 or 2.4%, driven by gains in full-time work. 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."


In October, employment increased in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and was little changed in the other provinces.

Employment was down for men in the core working ages of 25 to 54, and grew for the population aged 55 and over.

Employment declined in manufacturing and construction. At the same time, employment was up in public administration and in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing.

The number of self-employed workers decreased, while the number of employees in the public sector increased for the second consecutive month.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

Employment grows in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador

Employment in British Columbia rose by 15,000 in October, driven by increases in full-time work for those aged 55 and over. The unemployment rate in the province was little changed at 4.7%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in British Columbia grew by 50,000 (+2.0%), with almost all of the gains in full-time work.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment rose by 2,700, driven by part-time work among the core-aged population. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in Newfoundland and Labrador was little changed, and the unemployment rate was down 1.4 percentage points to 11.1%.

While employment in Nova Scotia was little changed in October, the unemployment rate increased 0.8 percentage points to 8.0% as more people searched for work. Year over year, employment was up by 9,800 (+2.1%).

In Manitoba, employment held steady in October, and the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 5.3% as more people were looking for work. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Manitoba was little changed and the unemployment rate was down 0.8 percentage points.

Both the employment level and the unemployment rate were little changed in October in the remaining provinces.

Employment declines among core-aged men (25 to 54 years old) and increases among the population aged 55 and over

Among core-age men, employment declined by 29,000, offsetting gains in September. Compared with October 2018, their employment was up by 94,000 (+1.5%). In October 2019, the unemployment rate for core-aged men increased 0.3 percentage points to 4.7%.

Employment for people aged 55 and over rose by 31,000 in October, with increases for both men (+17,000) and women (+15,000). The unemployment rate for this age group declined 0.2 percentage points to 4.7%. On a year-over-year basis, employment for this group grew by 187,000 (+4.6%).

Employment was little changed for core-age women in October, and their unemployment rate increased to 4.4%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment for this group was up by 54,000 (+0.9%) and their unemployment rate decreased 0.5 percentage points.

In October, employment for young people aged 15 to 24 was virtually unchanged. The youth unemployment rate decreased 0.6 percentage points to 11.3%, as fewer of them searched for work. Compared with October 2018, youth employment rose by 108,000 or 4.5%, mostly due to increases from January to April.

Industry perspective

The number of people employed in manufacturing fell by 23,000 in October, mostly in Ontario. On a year-over-year basis, employment was virtually unchanged, as declines in Ontario were offset by gains in Quebec.

In October, employment in construction fell by 21,000, with declines in five provinces, led by Quebec and Ontario. Compared with 12 months earlier, national employment in the industry was little changed.

Employment in the "other services" industry decreased by 18,000, mostly in Quebec and Alberta. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was little changed.

Employment in public administration rose by 20,000 in October, continuing an upward trend that began in January 2019. Gains in British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were partly offset by declines in Alberta. On a year-over-year basis, employment in public administration grew by 73,000 (+7.6%).

The number of people working in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing increased by 18,000 in October, the second increase in three months. Employment in this industry was up 64,000 (+5.5%) compared with 12 months earlier. Both the month-over-month and the year-over-year increases were driven by Ontario.

Self-employment decreases and public-sector employment increases

There were 28,000 fewer self-employed workers in October compared with September. Year over year, self-employment grew by 58,000 (+2.0%).

The number of public sector employees grew by 29,000 in October, following a similar gain in September. On a year-over-year basis, public sector employment grew by 125,000 (+3.3%).

While virtually unchanged in October for a second consecutive month, the number of private-sector employees was up by 260,000 (+2.2%) on a year-over-year basis.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to US concepts, the unemployment rate in Canada was 4.4% in October and 3.6% in the United States. Compared with 12 months earlier, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage points in Canada and 0.2 percentage points in the United States.

The labour force participation rate in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) was 65.5% in October, compared with 63.3% 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 0.4 percentage points in the United States.

The US-adjusted employment rate in Canada was 62.6% in October, compared with 61.0% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose by 0.5 percentage points in Canada and 0.4 percentage points in the United States.

For more information on Canada–US 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 implementation of 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 October are for the week of October 13 to 19.

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 December 6.


Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X) is now available for the week ending October 19.

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 also 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 Bertrand Ouellet-Léveillé (613-864-6641; or Dylan Saunders (613-762-6972;, Centre for Labour Market Information.

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