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Labour Force Survey, January 2020

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Released: 2020-02-07

Employment increased by 35,000 (+0.2%) in January, all in full-time work. The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 5.5%.

The additional employment in January contributed to gains totalling 268,000 (+1.4%) since January 2019. All of this increase was the result of growth in full-time employment. Over the same period, total hours worked increased 0.5%.

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 January, employment gains were observed in Quebec, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. Fewer people were employed in Alberta, while there was little change in the other provinces.

Employment in January was little changed for all the major demographic groups.

There were more people working in manufacturing, construction and agriculture. At the same time, employment declined in health care and social assistance.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment

Chart 2  Chart 2: Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate

Provincial summary

Employment in Quebec increased by 19,000 in January, with notable gains in full-time work. At the same time, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1%. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of people employed in the province grew by 60,000 (+1.4%).

In Manitoba, employment rose by 6,500, mostly in part-time work. This was the largest overall employment increase since April 2008. The unemployment rate in January was virtually unchanged at 5.1%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province was little changed.

The number of people employed in New Brunswick rose by 4,600, bringing total gains over the last 12 months to 5,300 (+1.5%). The unemployment rate in January was unchanged at 7.5%.

For the second time in three months, employment declined in Alberta, down 19,000 in January. This decrease was concentrated in part-time work. The unemployment rate was 7.3%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Alberta was little changed.

Three provinces saw notable change in the unemployment rate in January. The rate declined in Nova Scotia (down 0.5 percentage points to 7.4%) and in British Columbia (down 0.3 percentage points to 4.5%), as there were fewer people searching for work in these two provinces. In contrast, the unemployment rate increased in Saskatchewan, up 0.3 percentage points to 6.0%. There was little or no change in all other provinces.

In January, severe weather conditions affected several regions of the country, including British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta. During the survey's reference week for January 2020 (January 12 to 18), 390,000 employees in Canada lost work hours due to the weather, with the majority (61.1%) in British Columbia. While employment in Newfoundland and Labrador was little changed, a large number of employees (50,000 or 25.5% of all employees in the province) lost work hours because of a severe winter storm. In Alberta, 31,000 employees lost work hours due to severe weather conditions.

More people working in the goods-producing sector in January

Employment in the goods-producing sector increased by 49,000 in January, with gains in manufacturing (+21,000), construction (+16,000) and agriculture (+12,000). In the 12 months to January, construction and agriculture led the employment growth in the goods sector.

Overall, while the services-producing sector saw little employment change in January, there were fewer workers in health care and social assistance (-16,000). However in the 12 months to January, employment in the services sector grew by 236,000 (+1.6%) with gains spread across several industries, mainly finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; and health care and social assistance.

In January, there was little change in the number of employees both in the private and public sectors, as well as in self-employment. In the 12 months to January, public sector employment rose by 107,000, similar to the increase in the number of private sector employees (+106,000). Over the same period, the number of self-employed workers rose by 55,000.

Demographic overview

Employment was little changed for all the major demographic groups in January.

Since the start of 2019, employment for youth aged 15 to 24 increased by 58,000 (+2.4%). All of the gains over the past 12 months were attributable to youth aged 20 to 24. Compared with January 2019, the unemployment rate for youth aged 20 to 24 fell a full percentage point to 8.1% in January 2020, while it was little changed for youth aged 15 to 19 (14.4%).

For core-aged workers (25 to 54), the upward employment trend that started in 2018 ended at the start of the third quarter of 2019. Since then, employment has been relatively stable for this group of workers. In this age group, the unemployment rate in January 2020 stood at 4.9% for men and 4.7% for women.

Since the start of 2019, employment growth (+3.6%) among men aged 55 and over has outpaced their population growth (+2.7%). Their unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points over the 12-month period, to 4.9% in January 2020. In contrast, population growth (+2.5%) of women aged 55 and over was slightly greater than their employment growth (+2.2%) over the same period. Their unemployment rate was little changed in January at 4.4%.

A note of appreciation to our Labour Force Survey respondents and interviewers

The Labour Force Survey reference week was from Sunday, January 12 to Saturday, January 18.

A severe winter storm hit Newfoundland and Labrador towards the end of the reference week and resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency in St. John's.

In order to maintain the quality of the estimates, the collection period was extended by one day.

Thanks to the willingness of very cooperative respondents and the efforts of Statistics Canada interviewers, high quality data continued to be collected.

While a large number of employees lost work hours, the storm had no effect on overall employment estimates in the province in January.

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 January are for the week of January 12 to 18.

A standard revision to the LFS data was released on January 27, 2020. The LFS seasonally adjusted estimates have been revised back to January 2017 using updated seasonal factors.

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 those from the SEPH, refer to section 8 of the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (Catalogue number71-543-G).

LFS estimates at the Canada level do not include the territories.

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 March 6, 2020.


Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X) is now available for the week ending January 18.

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 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 Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; or Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627;, Centre for Labour Market Information.

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