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Labour Force Survey, December 2020

Released: 2021-01-08

December Labour Force Survey (LFS) results reflect labour market conditions as of the week of December 6 to 12.

As of the reference week, public health measures introduced earlier in the fall remained in place in Manitoba and much of Quebec. These included the closure of many recreation and cultural facilities and in-person dining services, as well as various degrees of restrictions on retail businesses.

In several other provinces, new restrictions had been introduced since the November LFS reference week. Nova Scotia introduced targeted measures in the urban core of the Halifax Regional Municipality on November 26. In Ontario, a lockdown was implemented in Toronto and Peel on November 23, which was extended to Windsor and York on December 11. Prince Edward Island entered a two-week shutdown on December 7. In Alberta, targeted measures introduced on November 24 required the closure of many entertainment and recreation facilities, but not in-person dining services. Saskatchewan introduced capacity limits for many businesses and activities on November 27.

Additional public health measures implemented in many provinces after the December LFS reference week (December 6 to 12) are likely to be reflected in January Labour Force Survey results.

Highlights

Employment falls for the first time since April

Employment fell by 63,000 (-0.3%) in December—the first decline since April.

Part-time employment declined by 99,000 (-2.9%) in December, led by losses among youth aged 15 to 24 (-58,000; -5.1%) and those aged 55 and older (-27,000; -3.0%).

By December, 1.1 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown—in the form of lost employment or reduced hours—compared with 5.5 million in April.

Self-employment fell by 62,000 in December, while the number of employees in both the public and private sectors was little changed.

As more provinces adapted their public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, total hours worked declined for the first time since April, falling 0.3% in December.

As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the fall, the share of Canadians working from home trended up, reaching 28.6% in December.

Unemployment rate holds steady

The unemployment rate was 8.6% in December, essentially unchanged from 8.5% in November.

In December, the unemployment rate of Canadians aged 15 to 69 who belong to a population group designated as a visible minority was little changed at 9.9% (not seasonally adjusted).

The participation rate declined for the second month in a row in December, falling 0.2 percentage points to 64.9%.

First employment decline for the services-producing sector since April

Employment in the services-producing sector fell by 74,000 (-0.5%) in December—the first decline in the sector since April.

Employment decreased in accommodation and food services; other services; and information, culture and recreation industries. All three industries were impacted by public health measures.

Although manufacturing employment increased (+15,000; +0.9%), employment in the goods-producing sector as a whole was little changed in December.

Labour market conditions vary across provinces, reflecting differences in public health measures

Employment declined in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island and held steady in the other six provinces.

Employment matched its pre-COVID February level only in Newfoundland and Labrador and was furthest below its February level in Alberta (-5.4%) and Manitoba (-5.8%).

Youth employment falls farther from pre-COVID levels

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 1.1% (-27,000) in December, with losses in part-time employment (-58,000; -5.1%) partially offset by gains in full-time work (+32,000; +2.7%).

Employment remained farther from pre-pandemic levels for youth (-10.5%) than for all other demographic groups in December, with female youth (-12.1%) continuing to be harder hit than their male counterparts (-8.8%).

Among the core-aged population (25 to 54 years old), both total employment and the unemployment rate were little changed in December.

Employment was closer to its pre-COVID level for the core-aged population than for all other age groups, with employment 1.8% below February levels.

The unemployment rate for Canadians aged 55 and older rose 0.8 percentage points in December to 7.9%.

Over the past several months, employment has remained further below pre-pandemic levels among Indigenous people compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. This continued in December, with employment among Indigenous Canadians 7.8% below February levels, compared with 2.1% below for non-Indigenous Canadians (not seasonally adjusted).

Employment falls for the first time since April

Employment fell by 63,000 (-0.3%) in December—the first decline since April. The unemployment rate was 8.6%, little changed from 8.5% in November.

Employment fell in industries most directly affected by new and continuing public health measures, including accommodation and food services; "other services"; and information, culture and recreation.

By April, the initial widespread COVID-19 economic shutdown had directly affected 5.5 million Canadian workers, including 3.0 million who had lost their job and 2.5 million who were employed but had experienced COVID-related absences from work.

By December, the equivalent figure was 1.1 million, including a 636,000 drop in employment since February and 488,000 more Canadians who were employed but working less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment declines for the first time since April
Employment declines for the first time since April

Part-time employment declines

Part-time employment declined by 99,000 (-2.9%) in December, led by losses among youth aged 15 to 24 (-58,000; -5.1%) and those aged 55 and older (-27,000; -3.0%). Compared with 12 months earlier, part-time employment was down 6.3% (-224,000), while full-time employment had decreased by 2.2% (-347,000).

Number of self-employed workers at lowest point since February

Self-employment fell by 62,000 in December, while the number of employees in both the public and private sectors was little changed.

The monthly drop in self-employment more than offset the increase seen over the previous two months and brought the number of self-employed workers to its lowest point since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, or 6.8% (-198,000) lower than in February. In contrast, the number of private-sector employees was 4.1% (-512,000) lower than in February while public sector employment was 1.9% (+73,000) higher.

On a year-over-year basis, self-employment was down by 192,000 (-6.6%) in December, with the largest declines in construction; transportation and warehousing; and health care and social assistance (not seasonally adjusted). The bulk of the decline was among core-aged workers, mostly men (not seasonally adjusted). Decreases were observed among the incorporated self-employed—including those with and without paid employees—as well as those who are unincorporated but have employees (not seasonally adjusted).

In April 2020, the initial impact of COVID-19 public health measures was reflected in a large number of business closures. While many businesses re-opened over the summer, monthly estimates of business openings and closures showed that the number of active businesses in September was 7.2% lower than in February 2020. The year-over-year decline in the number of self-employed workers with paid employees could be an indication that the number of business closures increased in the fall as some public health measures were reintroduced.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Self-employment declines, while growth halts for private sector employees
Self-employment declines, while growth halts for private sector employees

Hours worked fall for the first time since April

Along with employment, total hours worked across all industries is a core indicator of the state of the labour market. In general, total hours worked can be influenced by a number of factors such as employment growth, compositional change in employment by industry and occupation, and changes in absences from work.

As more provinces adapted their public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic, total hours worked declined for the first time since April, falling 0.3% in December. This decline was driven by losses in the accommodation and food services, and the "other services" industries (which include personal and laundry services). Smaller declines were observed in business, building and other support services, and natural resources.

Prior to December, total hours worked had recovered steadily, following a drop of more than one-quarter (-27.7%) from February to April. In December, total hours worked were 5.3% below February levels, with hours lost by self-employed workers accounting for over two-fifths (44.3%) of the overall decline.

Over one-quarter of Canadians working from home in December

At the height of the COVID-19 economic shutdown in April, two-fifths (41.6%) of people who worked at least half their usual hours worked from home. As the labour market rebounded during the spring and summer, this proportion fell steadily to 25.6% in September. As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the fall, the share of Canadians working from home trended upwards and reached 28.6% in December.

In general, the proportion of Canadians working from home can be influenced by a number of factors, such as changes in the work location of current jobs, the work location of new hires, and the extent to which employers have been able to adapt their operations to make working from home more practical.

The number of Canadians working at locations other than their home fell by about 250,000 to 12.0 million in December, while the number working from home increased by approximately 200,000 to 4.8 million. Among those working from home, 2.8 million reported that they did not usually do so.

Chart 3  Chart 3: The proportion of Canadians working from home has trended up since October
The proportion of Canadians working from home has trended up since October

Unemployment rate holds steady

The unemployment rate was 8.6% in December, essentially unchanged from 8.5% in November. The unemployment rate rose from 5.6% in February, just prior to the pandemic, to reach a record high of 13.7% in May in the wake of the first shutdown.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unemployment rate down from May record high
Unemployment rate down from May record high

Unemployment rate increases for Southeast Asian and Latin American Canadians, declines among South Asians

In December, the unemployment rate of Canadians aged 15 to 69 who belong to a population group designated as a visible minority was little changed at 9.9% (not seasonally adjusted). At the same time, the unemployment rate among those who were not Indigenous or a visible minority edged up 0.3 percentage points to 7.2% (not seasonally adjusted).

The unemployment rate among South Asian Canadians declined for the second consecutive month in December (-1.8 percentage points to 8.7%, not seasonally adjusted). In contrast, the unemployment rate increased for Southeast Asian (+3.9 percentage points to 12.6%) and Latin American Canadians (+2.1 percentage points to 12.0%). There was little change among the other four largest population groups designated as visible minorities (not seasonally adjusted).

Labour force participation declines

The labour force—the number of people counted as either employed or unemployed—dropped by 42,000 (-0.2%) in December, the first significant decline since April. Core-aged women and male youth were largely responsible for the fall.

The participation rate—the labour force as a proportion of the population aged 15 and older—declined for the second month in a row in December, falling 0.2 percentage points to 64.9%. The decrease was greatest for male youth (-0.9 percentage points to 63.0%), core-aged women (-0.3 percentage points to 83.5%) and core-aged men (-0.2 percentage points to 91.4%).

While the participation rate remained higher than the record low of 59.8% in April, it was 0.6 percentage points lower than in February.

The December increase in the number of people not in the labour force was entirely due to a rise (+99,000; +1.0%) among those who did not want a job, presumably because they had other responsibilities or interests. The number of people who wanted a job but did not look for one—which is typically an indication of job searchers being discouraged at the prospect of not finding work—declined in December (-35,000; -6.4%).

Labour underutilization flat as many Canadians still searching for work or working less than half their usual hours

Since March, the labour underutilization rate has served as an overall indicator of the impact of COVID-19 on labour market conditions. Above and beyond the unemployment rate, this rate 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.

After surging from 11.2% in February to 36.1% in April at the height of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the labour underutilization rate trended downward from May to November. In December, the rate was virtually unchanged at 17.1%.

Job searchers accounted for approximately two-fifths (41.2%) of labour underutilization in December, followed by those who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours (36.4%). Almost one-quarter of labour underutilization was attributable to people who wanted a job but did not look for one (14.3%) and those on temporary layoff or with arrangements to start a job in the near future (8.2%).

First employment decline for the services-producing sector since April

Employment in the services-producing sector fell by 74,000 (-0.5%) in December—the first decline in the sector since April. Employment decreased in accommodation and food services; "other services"; and information, culture and recreation industries. All three industries were affected by continuing and enhanced public health measures.

Although manufacturing employment increased, employment in the goods-producing sector as a whole was little changed in December.

Employment in the services- (-3.5%) and goods-producing (-2.5%) sectors remained below February levels.

Employment falls in accommodation and food services for the third straight month

Employment in accommodation and food services declined for the third consecutive month, falling by 57,000 (-5.8%) in December from the previous month and down by 129,000 (-12.4%) from September. Month over month, employment fell in six provinces, with the largest declines in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Nationally, employment in accommodation and food services was one-quarter (-25.8%) lower in December than in February. At its recent peak in September, employment in the industry was 15.3% below its pre-pandemic level, while in April, employment was down by half (-50.0%).

Sales in food service and drinking places fell 8.9% in October as second-wave COVID restrictions were implemented in several provinces.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Employment in accommodation and food services down by one-quarter compared with February
Employment in accommodation and food services down by one-quarter compared with February

Second consecutive employment decline in information, culture and recreation

Employment in information, culture and recreation declined for the second straight month, down by 19,000 (-2.7%) in December, as some provinces tightened public health measures at gyms, theaters and other businesses where it is difficult to maintain social distance. Most of the month-over-month employment decrease was in Alberta, where targeted measures were adopted as of November 24. At the national level, employment in information, culture and recreation was 12.9% below February levels.

Chart 6  Chart 6: Employment continues to decline in accommodation and food services, and in information, culture and recreation
Employment continues to decline in accommodation and food services, and in information, culture and recreation

First employment decline in "other services" since April

Employment in "other services" decreased for the first time since April, falling by 31,000 (-4.0%) in December. This industry includes a variety of businesses affected by public health measures, such as personal and laundry services (which include hair and beauty services) and religious activities. Most of the month-over-month decline occurred in Ontario and Quebec.

In 2019, almost one-third (29.1%) of people working in "other services" were self-employed.

In December, employment in "other services" was 9.3% below the pre-COVID level in February, but well above the low in April, when employment was down by over one-fifth (-22.7%).

Employment little changed for the second consecutive month in health care and social assistance

In health care and social assistance, employment was little changed for the second consecutive month in December. Employment in this industry has hovered around its pre-COVID level since October, when the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey found that there were 80,700 vacancies in the industry, second only to retail trade (not seasonally adjusted).

Employment edges up in retail trade

Employment in retail trade edged up by 19,000 (+0.9%) in December. While this pace of growth was slightly lower than in October (+1.4%) and November (+1.5%), it brought the industry to within 2.9% of its pre-COVID employment level.

Retail trade had the highest number of job vacancies (92,800) in October and accounted for one-sixth (17%) of all job vacancies that month (not seasonally adjusted). Retail sales edged up 0.4% in October.

Upward trend in employment continues in professional, scientific and technical services

Employment in professional, scientific and technical services continued to trend upward, rising by 17,000 (+1.0%) in December. A relatively small share of jobs in this industry—which includes computer system design services and advertising and related services—require close physical proximity to others, limiting the impact of public health measures on the sector. Most of the month-over-month employment increase occurred in Quebec.

Nationally, employment in professional, scientific and technical services was 4.8% higher in December than in February.

Growth resumes in manufacturing after two months of little change

Following two months of little change, manufacturing employment rose by 15,000 (+0.9%) in December, driven by an increase in Ontario. At the national level, the employment level in manufacturing has been hovering around its pre-COVID level since September.

COVID-19 public health measures affect provincial labour markets

While national employment fell for the first time since April, labour market conditions varied across provinces, reflecting differences in the extent of new and continuing public health restrictions. Employment declined in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island and held steady in the other six provinces. Employment matched its pre-COVID February level only in Newfoundland and Labrador and was furthest below its February level in Alberta (-5.4%) and Manitoba (-5.8%).

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

Employment growth stalls in Central Canada

Employment in Ontario was little changed in December, following monthly growth averaging 2.2% from June to November. The unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to 9.5% as more people looked for work. Employment losses were greatest in the accommodation and food services industry (-5.9%), while more people were working in manufacturing (+2.1%).

After increasing for five consecutive months, employment in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) was unchanged in November and fell by 52,000 (-1.5%) in December, coinciding with tighter public health measures adopted in the CMA on November 14 and a fuller lockdown implemented on November 23.

Given tighter public health measures in place since early October, employment in Quebec was little changed for the third consecutive month. With fewer people looking for work, the unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points to 6.7%—the lowest among the provinces. Employment increased in professional, scientific and technical services, while there were fewer workers in health care and social assistance, as well as in "other services."

Following little change in October and November, fewer people (-32,000; -1.5%) worked in the Montréal CMA in December as COVID-19 red zone restrictions remained in place during the week of December 6 to 12.

Employment losses in Saskatchewan and Manitoba

In Saskatchewan, employment fell by 6,700 (-1.2%) in December, led by losses in full-time work, and the unemployment rate increased 0.9 percentage points to 7.8%. In Manitoba, employment decreased by 6,600 (-1.0%), adding to losses of 18,000 (-2.8%) in November, and the unemployment rate ended the year at 8.2%, up from 7.4% in November.

Employment in Alberta was little changed for the second consecutive month, following average growth of 2.1% from May to October. The unemployment rate was 11.0%, little changed from November, but up from the pre-pandemic rate of 7.2% in February. Employment declines were most notable in information, culture and recreation; construction; and accommodation and food services, while more people were working in business, building and other support services.

Employment in British Columbia was little changed in December, as gains in full-time employment were offset by losses in part-time work, while the unemployment rate was 7.2%. The largest employment losses in the month were in accommodation and food services, while the largest gains were in construction. The Vancouver CMA saw little employment change in December, following gains averaging 2.8% from June to November.

Fewer people working in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Employment in Nova Scotia fell by 9,600 (-2.0%) and by 900 in Prince Edward Island in December. Both Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick posted little employment change in the month.

No employment losses in the territories

The LFS collects labour market data in the territories produced in the form of three-month moving averages.

Employment in Yukon rose by an estimated 800 people in the fourth quarter, and the employment rate—employment as a percentage of the population aged 15 and older—increased 2.4 percentage points to 67.4%. The unemployment rate fell 1.1 percentage points to 5.1%.

Following little change in the third quarter, employment in the Northwest Territories increased by 1,300 in the fourth quarter and the employment rate increased 3.9 percentage points to 65.6%. The unemployment rate dropped by 3.3 percentage points to 6.1%.

Employment in Nunavut held steady in the fourth quarter.

Youth employment falls farther from pre-COVID levels

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 1.1% (-27,000) in December, with losses in part-time employment (-58,000; -5.1%) partially offset by gains in full-time work (+32,000; +2.7%). These changes were primarily driven by female youth, with both full-time and part-time work being little changed for male youth.

The youth unemployment rate was 17.7% in December, virtually unchanged from November. The labour force participation rate fell by 0.9 percentage points to 63.0% for young men and was little changed at 63.3% for female youth.

Employment remained farther from pre-pandemic levels for youth (-10.5%) than for all other demographic groups in December, with female youth (-12.1%) continuing to be harder hit than their male counterparts (-8.8%).

There were 247,000 fewer youth employed in December 2020 than 12 months earlier, including 153,000 young women and 94,000 young men (not seasonally adjusted) The accommodation and food services industry accounted for over three-fifths (-152,000) of the net year-over-year drop in youth employment.

Chart 7  Chart 7: Employment recovery for youth falters in December
Employment recovery for youth falters in December

Employment for core-aged population remains closest to pre-shutdown levels

Among the core-aged population (25 to 54 years old), total employment was little changed for both men and women in December. Despite the stability in the month, employment was closer to its pre-COVID level for the core-aged population than for all other age groups, with employment 1.8% below February levels.

The unemployment rate for the core-aged population was little changed from November, at 7.0%.

There were approximately 44,000 (-0.3%) fewer core-aged people in the labour force in December compared with November, mainly driven by a decline among women (-27,000; -0.4%). The participation rate declined for both women (-0.3 percentage points to 83.5%) and men (-0.2 percentage points to 91.4%).

Unemployment increases for Canadians aged 55 and older

Total employment was little changed for older workers in December, despite part-time employment being down 27,000 (-3.0%) from November. Employment for this group was 3.4% below February levels, with employment 2.6% below pre-pandemic levels for older men and 4.4% below for older women.

The unemployment rate for Canadians aged 55 and older rose 0.8 percentage points in December to 7.9%. Unemployment for this group grew at a faster pace among women (+24,000; +18.7%) than among men (+10,000; +5.6%).

Chart 8  Chart 8: Unemployment rate up for all age groups, highest among youth
Unemployment rate up for all age groups, highest among youth

Like other youth, younger recent immigrants face labour market challenges

In recent months, the employment rate—that is, the percentage of the population that is employed—has been closer to pre-pandemic levels among immigrants who landed within the past five years than among more established immigrants and those born in Canada (not seasonally adjusted). This reflects the fact that declines in employment for this group have coincided with a decline in the number of new immigrants, a direct result of COVID-related international travel restrictions.

This pattern continued in December. Using three-month moving averages, which help smooth out monthly variations for smaller population groups, the employment rate among immigrants who landed within the past five years was little changed from the same three-month period a year earlier (65.4%, not seasonally adjusted) as their population and employment levels fell at a similar pace. In contrast, the three-month moving average employment rate declined for immigrants who landed over five years ago (-2.3 percentage points to 57.8%) and for those born in Canada (-2.9 percentage points to 59.6%).

The relative stability of the employment rate among very recent immigrants masks the fact that, like youth as a whole, younger members of this group continue to face challenging labour market conditions. Among those aged 15 to 24, the three-month moving average of the employment rate fell to a similar degree on a year-over-year basis for those who landed within the past five years, those who landed more than five years ago, and those born in Canada.

Among Indigenous Canadians, employment remains further from recovery for women than men

Over the past several months, employment has remained further below pre-pandemic levels among Indigenous people compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. This continued in December, with employment among Indigenous Canadians 7.8% below February levels, compared with 2.1% below for non-Indigenous Canadians (not seasonally adjusted).

Using a three-month moving average of the employment rate to examine trends for smaller population groups shows that Indigenous women remain further below pre-pandemic levels than Indigenous men. Compared with one year earlier, the three-month moving average of the employment rate for Indigenous women was down 8.0 percentage points to 47.8% in December, compared with a 3.2 percentage point decline for Indigenous men to 57.1% (not seasonally adjusted). In contrast, the drop in the employment rate among the non-Indigenous population was similar for men (-2.4 percentage points to 63.4%) and women (-2.6 percentage points to 55.7%). These differences are consistent with findings from earlier in the pandemic, as reported in Labour market impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous people: March to August 2020.

Looking ahead: Working from home continues to be widespread in industries with little need for physical proximity

A notable impact of COVID-19 has been the large-scale adoption of working from home as a means of balancing employment with the need to protect health and safety. With the labour market recording its first employment losses since April and public health measures being tightened in response to a new wave of COVID-19 infections, the continued viability of telework will be an important factor in the performance of the Canadian economy in 2021.

While the proportion of Canadians working from home declined from a peak in April (41.6%) to a low in September (25.6%), before increasing slightly in the fall, the degree of change has varied by sector. In three industries—professional, scientific and technical services; finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; and public administration—working from home has remained at elevated levels. These industries have the lowest proportions of workers in occupations that typically require close physical proximity to others, and all have regained or surpassed February employment levels.

Chart 9  Chart 9: With the shift from remote learning to classrooms, the educational services industry has seen the largest decline in working from home
With the shift from remote learning to classrooms, the educational services industry has seen the largest decline in working from home

In the educational services industry, the share of people working from home fell notably from April to December (down 48.9 percentage points to 33.3%). This is consistent with public health measures that required most schools to suddenly switch to remote learning in the spring, but that have since allowed many students and educators back into the classroom. As schools adjust to a new wave of COVID-19 cases in early 2021, a partial return to remote learning may influence the work location of teachers and other workers in this industry.

The accommodation and food services industry, where work generally requires close physical proximity to others, had the lowest proportion of employees working from home in both April and December. This reflects the significant challenges facing this industry, which employed an average of 1.2 million Canadians in 2019 and where 25.8% fewer people were working in December than in February.

As the New Year begins, Statistics Canada remains committed to informing Canadians of the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the labour market, including the impact of public health measures and the challenges and opportunities for both workers and employers, which are likely to follow the unprecedented events of 2020.













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 December are for the week of December 6 to 12.

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 December.

The distribution of LFS interviews in December 2020 compared with November 2020, was as follows:

Telephone interviews – from interviewer homes

• November 2020: 67.5%

• December 2020: 67.6%

Online interviews

• November 2020: 32.5%

• December 2020: 32.4%

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 December 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 December 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.

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, which involves LFS and the Census of Population This historical data complements population group data collected directly in LFS, through a comparison of year-over-year changes in the unemployment rate.

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).

Revisions to the Labour Force Survey

To ensure that the LFS reflects current labour market conditions as accurately as possible, data are revised following each census to reflect the most recently available population estimates, geographic boundaries, and industry and occupation classifications. This standard revision process results in minor changes to recent and historical LFS data and has little impact on trends in key labour market indicators, such as employment, unemployment, and labour force participation rates.

Changes to LFS data tables on the Statistics Canada website and information products resulting from this historical revision will be announced in The Daily on January 25, 2021.

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on February 5, 2021.

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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