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Labour Force Survey, October 2020

Released: 2020-11-06

Employment growth slows as new COVID-19 restrictions are implemented

October Labour Force Survey (LFS) results reflect labour market conditions as of the week of October 11 to 17. By then, several provinces had tightened public health measures in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Unlike the widespread economic shutdown implemented in March and April, these measures were targeted at businesses where the risk of COVID transmission is thought to be greater, including indoor restaurants and bars and recreational facilities.

Employment increased by 84,000 (+0.5%) in October, after growing by an average of 2.7% per month since May. The unemployment rate was 8.9%, little changed from September.

Employment increases in several industries were partially offset by a decrease of 48,000 in the accommodation and food services industry, largely in Quebec.

In April, the number of workers directly affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown peaked at 5.5 million, including a 3.0 million drop in employment and a 2.5 million increase in absences from work. By October, the equivalent figure was 1.1 million, including a drop of 636,000 (-3.3%) in employment and an increase of 433,000 (+53.7%) in the number of Canadians who were employed but working less than half their usual hours.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment growth in October tempered by second wave
Employment growth in October tempered by second wave

Highlights

Employment growth slows as new COVID-19 restrictions are implemented

Employment increased by 84,000 (+0.5%) in October. Most of the employment increase in October was in full-time work (+69,000).

Self-employment increased for the first time (+1.2%; +33,000) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those who worked at least half their usual hours, the number working from home increased by 150,000.

Unemployment rate holds steady

The unemployment rate was 8.9% in October, little changed from September.

Long-term unemployment increased by 79,000 (+36.2%) in September and a further 151,000 (+50.7%) in October.

More than half (53.3%) of the long-term unemployed were living in a household reporting difficulty meeting necessary expenses.

In October, 540,000 Canadians wanted to work but did not search for a job, down 39,000 from September.

Unemployment was little changed among six of the seven largest groups designated as visible minorities, while it rose 1.4 percentage points to 13.8% among South Asian Canadians.

Uneven employment growth across industries and provinces

Employment increased in five provinces (Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island).

Employment levels were closest to their pre-COVID February levels in Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.5%), Manitoba (-2.1%) and New Brunswick (-2.3%).

Employment growth stalled in transportation and warehousing, and in construction, while it resumed in retail trade.

Employment exceeded pre-COVID levels in wholesale trade; professional, scientific and technical services; and educational services.

Employment growth continues for core-age women

Employment among core-aged women (25 to 54 years old) increased for the sixth consecutive month in October (+40,000; +0.7%), with gains focused in full-time work. The unemployment rate for core-aged women declined 0.4 percentage points to 6.6%, the lowest rate among the major demographic groups.

Employment among core-age men rose by 25,000 (+0.4%), driven by full-time gains; their unemployment rate was unchanged (7.6%).

Among youth aged 15 to 24, employment was little changed from September, as gains among young men (+16,000; +1.4%) were offset by losses among young women (-14,000; -1.2%).

Employment remained further from full recovery for youth than for all other major age groups, with employment among female (-11.5%) and male (-8.9%) youth remaining well below pre-pandemic levels.

Employment growth concentrated in full-time work

Most of the employment increase in October was in full-time work (+69,000; +0.5%) and the number of people working part time was virtually unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, full-time employment was down 3.1%, compared with a decrease of 3.4% for part-time work.

More than one in five part-time workers (23.0%; 826,000) wanted full-time work but were unable to find it, up 5.6 percentage points from 12 months earlier (not seasonally adjusted). The year-over-year increase in the proportion of part-time workers who were doing so involuntarily was highest among men aged 25 to 54 (up 13.3 percentage points to 46.0%) (not seasonally adjusted). By industry, the largest year-over-year increases were in construction; finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing; and 'other services.'

Self-employment increases for the first time since the COVID-19 economic shutdown

Self-employment rose by 33,000 (+1.2%) in October, the first increase since the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown in March. From February to April, employment losses were less pronounced for the self-employed (-79,000; -2.7%) than for employees (-2.9 million; -18.0%). However, while the number of employees rebounded from April to September, the number of self-employed workers remained flat.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Self-employment increases for the first time since the COVID-19 economic shutdown in March
Self-employment increases for the first time since the COVID-19 economic shutdown in March

Growth in hours worked outpaces employment increase in the month

As full-time work increased in October, and as fewer employed people worked reduced hours, total hours worked grew by 0.8% in October, outpacing total employment growth (+0.5%).

Compared with 12 months earlier, total hours worked was down 5.3% in October, while the number of employed Canadians was 3.1% lower. The year-over-year drop in hours worked was almost entirely due to declines among the self-employed, whose hours worked were down 12.7%, compared with a decrease of 0.1% for employees (not seasonally adjusted).

More Canadians working from home

Among those who worked at least half their usual hours, the number of Canadians working from home increased by approximately 150,000 in October, while the number working at locations other than home was little changed. Working from home continues to be an important adaptation to COVID-19 health risks, with 2.4 million Canadians who do not normally work from home doing so in October.

Unemployment rate holds steady

The unemployment rate was 8.9% in October, little changed from September. The number of unemployed Canadians (1.8 million) held steady in the month and was up 683,000 (+60.2%) from pre-COVID February levels.

There are three categories of unemployed: job searchers, people who are on temporary layoff from an existing job and people who have arrangements to begin a new job in the near future. After falling in September, the number of job searchers increased in October (+52,000; +3.5%). The number of people on temporary layoff or with arrangements to start a new job in the near future—which peaked in April—declined by 68,000 (-18.7%) in the month.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Unemployment rate continues to drop from May's record high
Unemployment rate continues to drop from May's record high

In addition to the unemployed, 540,000 Canadians wanted to work in October but did not search for a job, down 39,000 from September and continuing a downward trend from a peak of 1.5 million in April. If people in this group were included as unemployed, the adjusted unemployment rate in October would be 11.3%.

Notable increase in long-term unemployment

Since March, a number of the LFS indicators have proven useful in fully capturing the labour market impact of the COVID-19 economic shutdown and subsequent re-opening of the economy. As labour market conditions continue to evolve, long-term unemployment will become a key measure of the ability of Canadian workers to adapt to new labour market conditions by finding new work.

Long-term unemployment—defined as those who are unemployed and have been looking for work or on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more—increased by 79,000 (+36.2%) in September and a further 151,000 (+50.7%) in October, reflecting the flow into this category of those who lost jobs in March and April and have been unemployed since then. As of October, the long-term unemployed totalled 448,000, or one-quarter (24.6%) of all unemployed people.

September and October increases in long-term unemployment are by far the sharpest recorded since comparable data became available in 1976. By October, the number of long-term unemployed—and their share of total unemployment—had already exceeded the peaks observed during the 2008/2009 economic downturn, but were below the peaks seen during the recessions of the early 1980s and the early 1990s.

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Sudden shutdown in March 2020 results in sharper increase in long-term unemployment compared with previous downturns
Sudden shutdown in March 2020 results in sharper increase in long-term unemployment compared with previous downturns

Unemployment rate increases among South Asian Canadians in October

Canadians who belong to groups designated as visible minorities continued to have a higher unemployment rate in October (11.7% combined) than Canadians who were not Indigenous and not visible minority (6.7%) (not seasonally adjusted).

While the unemployment rate of Canadians who were not a visible minority fell 0.3 percentage points in October, the unemployment rate of South Asian Canadians rose 1.4 percentage points to 13.8% and there was little change among the other six largest groups designated as visible minorities (not seasonally adjusted).

Multiple sources—including Economic impact of COVID-19 among visible minority groups—have shown that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is not being felt equally by all Canadians. To provide an indication of the varying impact of COVID-19 on the labour market conditions of diverse groups in Canada, experimental estimates of year-over-over changes in unemployment rate were developed. These experimental estimates indicate that compared with a year earlier, the unemployment rate increased to a greater extent in October among Chinese (+5.9 percentage points), Black (+3.8), South Asian (+3.4) and Filipino (+3.3) Canadians than among those who were not Indigenous and not a visible minority (+2.6).

Seven months from the shutdown, labour underutilization continues to trend downward

Since March, the labour underutilization rate—which reflects the proportion of people in the potential labour force who are either unemployed, want a job but have not looked for one, or are employed but working less than half of their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19—has served as an overall indicator of labour market conditions in the wake of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. After surging from 11.2% in February to 36.1% in April, the rate has fallen each month since May, including a 1.1 percentage point drop to 17.2% in October.

The decline in labour underutilization since May has been driven by drops in three groups of workers which increased sharply in response to the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown: those who remained employed but worked less than half their usual hours; those who were temporarily laid off from a job; and those who wanted a job but did not look for one, presumably because of the immediate labour market disruptions caused by the shutdown. Over the same period, the number of job seekers has increased, and in October this group was the largest contributor to labour underutilization.

Infographic 2  Thumbnail for Infographic 2: Labour underutilization shrinks from April peak
Labour underutilization shrinks from April peak

Uneven employment picture across provinces and industries

As the Canadian economy continued to recover from the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown, and as new public health restrictions were implemented in some areas in September and October, labour market conditions varied widely across provinces and industries during the week of October 11 to 17.

Employment increased in five provinces in October—Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island—and held steady in the rest. Consistent with the re-introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in many regions of central Canada, the pace of employment growth slowed in Ontario while no gains were recorded in Quebec.

By October, employment levels were closest to their pre-COVID February levels in Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.5%), Manitoba (-2.1%) and New Brunswick (-2.3%). Among the four most populated provinces, employment was closest to February levels in British Columbia (-2.4%) and Quebec (-2.9%), and farthest in Ontario (-3.8%) and Alberta (-4.4%).

The accommodation and food services industry was most directly affected by the recent tightening of public health measures—and, for the first time since April, employment declined in this industry in October. Months of flat employment continued in a number of industries which have yet to recover to their pre-COVID levels, including construction, and transportation and warehousing. At the same time, for a number of industries—including professional, scientific and technical services; wholesale trade; and educational services—employment exceeded February levels.

For further information on key province-level and industry-level labour market indicators, see Labour Force Survey in Brief: Interactive app.

Employment growth slows in central Canada

Employment increased in Ontario (+31,000; +0.4%) in October, with all of the growth in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto (+41,000; +1.2%). In both the province and in Toronto, the pace of growth was slower than in recent months. New capacity limits were introduced for restaurants and some other businesses in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa on October 2. These regions then moved into "modified Stage 2" on October 10, which required some businesses to close, including many recreational and cultural facilities, as well as indoor dining services.

Employment increased in the wholesale and retail trade industries in Ontario, two sectors largely unaffected by new COVID-19 restrictions. Following five months of gains totalling 154,000, employment in accommodation and food services in Ontario was virtually unchanged in the month and remained 15.7% below its pre-COVID February level. Employment declined in transportation and warehousing.

Following five consecutive months of gains, employment was little changed in Quebec in October and the unemployment rate edged up 0.3 percentage points to 7.7%. Employment gains spread across several services-producing industries were partly offset by a drop of 42,000 in the accommodation and food services industry. The public health alert level in Montréal and Québec City was raised to "red" on October 1, which led to the closure of indoor restaurants and many cultural facilities. Travel between regions in the province was also discouraged. Over the subsequent two weeks, several other regions in Quebec went to red alert and additional measures were introduced.

Employment grows in Alberta and British Columbia

In British Columbia, employment grew by 34,000 (+1.4%) in October, adding to gains over the previous five months (+302,000). The unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month, down 0.4 percentage points to 8.0% in October. In the CMA of Vancouver, employment increased by 52,000 (+3.8%) and was within 4.3% of its pre-COVID level.

In Alberta, employment rose by 23,000 (+1.1%), the fifth increase in six months. Following large employment losses earlier this year, the Calgary CMA has posted four consecutive employment gains since summer totalling 101,000 (+13.6%). Recent employment increases in Edmonton have been more modest, up 60,000 (+9.0%) since summer.

October employment gains in Alberta were spread across several industries, including healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale and retail trade. Employment in natural resources edged up in the month, but was down 5.2% on a year-over-year basis.

Employment increases in Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island

In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment grew (+5,900) in October, while the unemployment rate fell 2.0 percentage points to 12.8%. Employment was also up in Prince Edward Island (+900), while the unemployment rate was virtually unchanged at 10.0%.

Employment declines in accommodation and food services for the first time since April

Following five consecutive monthly increases, employment in accommodation and food services declined by 48,000 (-4.6%) in October, with almost all of the decline in Quebec (-42,000) given the reintroduction of public health measures there. In Ontario, employment in the industry stalled after recovering by 154,000 (+34.3%) from April to September.

At the national level, employment in accommodation and food services was almost one-fifth (-19.2%; -236,000) below its pre-COVID February level. Before the introduction of new restrictions in September and October, the industry was struggling to recover from the impact of the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown. In August, for example, sales in the food services and drinking places subsector were down by almost one-quarter (-22.1%) compared with August 2019.

Employment losses in three provinces in information, culture and recreation

Although total employment in the information, culture and recreation industry was little changed in October, it declined notably in Quebec (-11,000), Alberta (-7,200) and Saskatchewan (-2,800). In Quebec, the decline occurred in tandem with measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, which included closing casinos, theatres, cinemas and museums, as well as amusement centres and parks.

The latest results from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours show that payroll employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector was farther from pre-COVID levels than any other sector in August. The next few months will shed light on the impact of public health restrictions on employment in this sector which, like the accommodation and food services industry, has strong ties to travel and tourism.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of temporary employees in information, culture and recreation was down significantly (-33.7%) in October, helping to explain the continuing employment deficit in this industry (not seasonally adjusted).

Chart 4  Chart 4: Employment in accommodation and food services declines for the first time since April
Employment in accommodation and food services declines for the first time since April

Employment growth stalls in many industries

While many industries were not directly impacted by the recently introduced public health measures, they have not yet fully recovered from the impact of the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown.

Employment in transportation and warehousing was little changed in October. Since the reopening of the economy in the late spring, employment in this industry has recouped half of the losses that occurred from February to May. In October, employment in this industry was 8.4% (-86,000) below its pre-COVID level.

With restrictions on travel and gathering still in place, the continuing impact of COVID-19 has been much more significant for the transportation of people than of goods. For example, the August Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, found that payroll employment in transit and ground passenger transportation was down by 17.8% from February to August, while payroll employment in truck transportation—primarily for goods—was down by 7.9% for the same period. Similarly, in August major Canadian airlines carried 86.8% fewer passengers than 12 months earlier and Canadian railways carried 14.7% less freight.

In construction, employment was little changed for the third consecutive month in October, following increases totalling 190,000 (+16.2%) from April to July. Employment in construction was 7.5% (-112,000) below its February level in October. Recent data on housing starts showed a decline of 5.0% from September 2019 to September 2020, following two months of strong year-over-year increases.

Employment in the 'other services' industry was little changed for a second consecutive month in October. Despite strong gains from April to August, employment in this industry was down by 5.2% (-42,000) compared with February, with most of the decline in the four largest provinces. This industry includes personal care services businesses, such as hair and beauty salons.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Employment growth stalls in many industries
Employment growth stalls in many industries

Employment growth resumes in retail trade

Following a pause in September, employment growth resumed in retail trade, rising by 31,000 (+1.4%) in October, with most of the increase in Ontario. From February to April, employment declined by over one-fifth (-22.9%; -517,000), due to the closures of retail businesses during the first wave of COVID-19. In October, public health measures associated with the second wave did not include requirements for retail businesses to close. Employment in this industry was 5.1% (-115,000) below its pre-COVID level and down by 2.4% (-54,000) compared with October 2019.

Employment exceeds pre-COVID levels in three industries

Employment exceeded pre-COVID levels in three industries in October—wholesale trade; professional, scientific and technical services; and educational services.

In wholesale trade, employment increased by 15,000 (+2.3%) in October, driven by increases in Alberta. Employment in this industry was 5.6% (+35,000) above its February level. The latest results from the wholesale trade release show that sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in August and were 1.7% above pre-COVID-19 levels.

Employment rose for the fourth consecutive month in professional, scientific and technical services, up 42,000 (+2.7%) in October and led by Ontario (+23,000). With this gain, employment in this industry was 3.3% (+51,000) higher than its pre-COVID level. Job security among employees in this industry, which includes computer systems design and related services; architecture, engineering and related services; and legal services, tends to be higher than in other industries. In 2019, the vast majority (92.1%) of employees were permanent, that is, they had a job that was expected to last as long as the employee wanted, business conditions permitting.

Employment was little changed in educational services in October, but exceeded its February level by 2.8% (+39,000). Compared with October 2019, employment in this industry increased by 32,000, in part a reflection of a number of jurisdictions increasing staffing levels to support classroom adaptations brought on by COVID-19.

Compared with other industries, a relatively high share of workers in educational services (25.8% in 2019) are temporary employees, reflecting the relatively high prevalence of teaching staff hired on a contract basis. While the number of temporary employees decreased markedly following the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown, it had rebounded in October (little changed on a year-over-year basis, not seasonally adjusted), helping to boost overall employment in the industry. Permanent employees in educational services also contributed to the recovery of this industry on a year-over-year basis. In October, the number of permanent employees was up 5.6% compared with 12 months earlier (not seasonally adjusted).

Chart 6  Chart 6: Employment above pre-COVID levels in three industries
Employment above pre-COVID levels in three industries

Employment growth continues for core-aged women

Employment among core-aged women (25 to 54 years old) increased for the sixth consecutive month in October (+40,000; +0.7%), entirely driven by gains in full-time work. The unemployment rate for core-aged women declined 0.4 percentage points to 6.6% in October, the lowest rate among the major demographic groups. After returning to its pre-COVID level in September, the participation rate for women in the core-age group was little changed at 83.7% in October, but well above the recent low of 77.8% in April.

Employment for this group was within 1.4% of its pre-COVID February level in October—the closest of the major demographic groups. On a year-over-year basis, employment was down in several industries, led by accommodation and food services; and business, building and other support services. These declines were partially offset by gains in other areas, most notably the finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing industry.

Hours worked by core-aged women were little changed from October 2019.

Employment growth among core-aged men continues to lag behind women

Employment among core-age men rose by 25,000 (+0.4%) in October, driven by full-time gains. The unemployment rate for men aged 25 to 54 was unchanged in October at 7.6%. The uptick in employment was mirrored by a similarly sized increase in labour force participation, up 0.4 percentage points to 91.6% in October and well above the record-low of 85.3% in April.

Gains in October brought core-aged men to within 2.0% of their pre-COVID employment level. On a year-over-year basis, the majority of employment declines occurred in the construction; transportation and warehousing; and accommodation and food services industries.

Like their female counterparts, core-aged men worked as many total hours in October as they did 12 months earlier.

Chart 7  Chart 7: Employment growth slows as core-aged men and women edge closer to pre-shutdown employment levels
Employment growth slows as core-aged men and women edge closer to pre-shutdown employment levels

Employment remains furthest from pre-pandemic levels among youth

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 was little changed from September, as gains among young men (+16,000; +1.4%) were offset by losses among young women (-14,000; -1.2%). Losses among young women were primarily in full-time work, whereas gains for young men were in part-time work.

Employment remained further from full recovery for youth than for all other major age groups, with employment among female (-11.5%) and male (-8.9%) youth remaining well below pre-pandemic levels. There were significantly fewer youth employed in accommodation and food services (-23.5%, not seasonally adjusted) year over year in October. This industry typically accounts for about one-fifth of youth employment (19.6% in 2019).

Many youth hold multiple jobs, either as a means of supplementing their income or to acquire additional employment experience. In October, the number of youth workers holding more than one job was down 30.8% on a year-over-year basis (not seasonally adjusted).

Hours worked by youth were down 12.0% in October year over year, with the decline among young women (-16.4%) more pronounced than among young men (-8.6%).

The unemployment rate for male youth aged 15 to 24 continued to fall, down 1.4 percentage points from September to 19.1% in October. Conversely, the unemployment rate for female youth rose 1.3 percentage points to 18.5%. Youth unemployment rates remain considerably higher year over year for young women (+9.2 percentage points) and young men (+5.9 percentage points).

Schools reopened for most students by mid-September, albeit with many changes involving online and in-person classes. Almost two-thirds of young Canadians aged 15 to 24 were attending school this October (64.0%), up from October 2019 (62.1%) (not seasonally adjusted). The youth labour force participation rate was unchanged from September (64.2%), but down 0.7 percentage points from October 2019 (64.9%).

Employment recovery stalls for people aged 55 and older

Employment among workers aged 55 and older was largely unchanged in October, following five consecutive months of gains.

Employment for this group was 3.8% below its pre-pandemic February level, with employment for older men (2.7% below pre-pandemic levels) recovering at a faster pace than for older women (5.1% below pre-pandemic levels). By industry, the largest year-over-year employment declines for people in this age group were among those who worked in the information, culture and recreation; and public administration industries. Actual hours worked among those aged 55 and older were down 3.8% year over year, led by women (-6.1%).

The participation rate among Canadians aged 55 and older had virtually recovered for men (43.6%) in October, while it remained 1.2 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels for women (31.2%).

Employment rate among very recent immigrants remains closest to February levels, as restrictions placed on international borders continue to restrict international migration

The employment rate of recent immigrants who landed in Canada within the last five years increased by 1.4 percentage points to 65.0% in October (not seasonally adjusted). Trends in labour market indicators for this group should be examined within the context of a declining population resulting from restrictions placed on international migration. For more information on recent changes in international migration, see Canada's population estimates: Age and sex, July 1, 2020.

By way of comparison, the employment rates for people born in Canada (60.0%) and immigrants who landed more than five years ago (57.9%) were virtually unchanged in October. For more information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrant employment, see Transitions into and out of employment by immigrants during the COVID-19 lockdown and recovery.

Employment increases for Indigenous people

Employment among Indigenous people living off-reserve (+2.1%; +11,000) increased at a much faster pace from September to October than among non-Indigenous Canadians (+0.4%; +67,000) (not seasonally adjusted). In October, employment for Indigenous people was at 95.8% of its February level, compared with 98.5% for non-Indigenous Canadians. For more information, see Labour market impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous people: March to August 2020.

Looking ahead

Like employers who are facing uncertainty over the impact of the second wave of the pandemic and public health measures on their ability to operate, Canadian workers are also confronting uncertainty with their financial situation.

More than half of long-term unemployed experiencing financial difficulty

In October, more than half (53.3%) of those who were unemployed and had been searching for work or on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more were living in a household reporting difficulty meeting necessary expenses. This was higher than the proportion of those with a shorter jobless spell (42.7%) and more than double the proportion (19.0%) of those who were employed or not in the labour force.

In addition to the long-term unemployed, there were a further 295,000 people (not seasonally adjusted) who were not in the labour force in October, but wanted a job and had last worked more than six months ago. Like the unemployed, this group had a higher likelihood of living in a household reporting financial difficulty (37.2%).

In October, a number of changes were made to the federal programs designed to assist Canadians in responding to financial difficulties resulting from COVID-19. This included the transition of beneficiaries from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the Employment Insurance (EI) program, as well as the introduction of the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

In October, 8.8% of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported receiving at least one of these federal income support payments in the four weeks preceding their LFS interview. Over the coming months, the LFS will continue to track the profile of Canadians receiving each of these benefits.

Two-thirds of Canadian workers concerned about COVID-19 infection

As the winter months approach, two-thirds (66.9%) of Canadians who were employed in October expressed concern about contracting COVID-19 themselves—either in the workplace or in a public place—or infecting a family member.

Those working in the frontline industries of educational services (58.7%) and healthcare and social assistance (56.0%) were most likely to express concern about contracting COVID-19 on the job. Within the educational services industry, those who worked most of their hours at locations other than their home were particularly likely to cite this concern (67.3%). Half (50.4%) of the workers in accommodation and food services were concerned about contracting COVID-19 at their workplace, while workers in agriculture (17.4%) were least likely to be concerned about contracting the virus on the job.

In the coming months, the LFS will continue to introduce adaptations and enhancements to help ensure that Statistics Canada can continue to inform Canadians on the full impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy and society.













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 11 to 17.

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."

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.

Since March 2020, all face-to-face interviews have been replaced by telephone interviews to protect the health of both interviewers and respondents. In addition, all telephone interviews were conducted by interviewers working from their home and none were done from Statistics Canada's call centres. As has been the case each month since June, approximately 40,000 interviews were completed in October.

The distribution of LFS interviews in October 2020 compared with September 2020, was as follows:

Telephone interviews – from interviewer homes

• September 2020 67.4%

• October 2020 67.8%

Online interviews

• September 2020 32.6%

• October 2020 32.2%

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 aged 15 and older.

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.

Supplementary indicators used in October 2020 analysis

To continue capturing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market, the supplementary indicators used in March and April were slightly adapted. Therefore, the May to October supplementary indicators are not directly comparable to the supplementary indicators published in April and March 2020.

Employed, worked zero hours includes employees and self-employed who were absent from work all week, but excludes people who have been away for reasons such as 'vacation,' 'maternity,' 'seasonal business' and 'labour dispute.'

Employed, worked less than half of their usual hours includes both employees and self-employed, where only employees were asked to provide a reason for the absence. This excludes reasons for absence such as 'vacation,' 'labour dispute,' 'maternity,' 'holiday,' and 'weather.' Also excludes those who were away all week.

Not in labour force but wanted work includes persons who were neither employed, nor unemployed during the reference period and wanted work, but did not search for reasons such as 'waiting for recall (to former job),' 'waiting for replies from employers,' 'believes no work available (in area, or suited to skills),' 'long-term future start,' and 'other.'

Unemployed, job searchers were without work, but had looked for work in the past four weeks ending with the reference period and were available for work.

Unemployed, temporary layoff or future starts were on temporary layoff due to business conditions, with an expectation of recall, and were available for work; or were without work, but had a job to start within four weeks from the reference period and were available for work (don't need to have looked for work during the four weeks ending with the reference week).

Labour underutilization rate (specific definition to measure the COVID-19 impact) combines all those who were unemployed with those who were not in the labour force but wanted a job and did not look for one; as well as those who remained employed but lost all or the majority of their usual work hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 as a proportion of the potential labour force.

Potential labour force (specific definition to measure the COVID-19 impact) includes people in the labour force (all employed and unemployed people), and people not in the labour force who wanted a job but didn't search for reasons such as 'waiting for recall (to former job),' 'waiting for replies from employers,' 'believes no work available (in area, or suited to skills),' 'long-term future start,' and 'other.'

Time-related underemployment rate combines people who remained employed but lost all or the majority of their usual work hours as a proportion of all employed people.

New information on population groups

Beginning in July, the LFS includes a question asking respondents to report the population groups to which they belong. Possible responses, which are the same as in the 2016 Census, include:

• White

• South Asian e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan

• Chinese

• Black

• Filipino

• Arab

• Latin American

• Southeast Asian e.g., Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai

• West Asian e.g., Iranian, Afghan

• Korean

• Japanese

• Other

For LFS records interviewed before July, population group characteristics were assigned using an experimental sample matching data integration method. This involved directly integrating LFS and census information for approximately 20% of LFS records. For the remaining 80%, population group characteristics were assigned using information available at the population level from both LFS and census. Further development of this method will continue in the coming months.

According to the Employment Equity Act, visible minorities are "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." In the text, data for the population who identify as Aboriginals are analyzed separately. The remaining category is described as "people not designated as visible minorities" or "people who are not a visible minority."

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.

The seasonally adjusted data for retail trade and wholesale trade industries presented here are not published in other public LFS tables. A seasonally adjusted series is published for the combined industry classification (wholesale and retail trade).

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on December 4.

Products

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, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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