Payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies, November 2020
November data are now available from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), which provides monthly information on payroll employment, earnings and hours worked in Canada, the provinces and territories.
SEPH provides an account of payroll employment, that is, the number of employees receiving pay or benefits (employment income) during a given month. The survey excludes the self-employed, owners and partners of unincorporated businesses and professional practices, and employees in the agricultural sector.
Preliminary monthly results from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) are also now available for November. In conjunction with results from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), data from SEPH and JVWS contribute to a fuller understanding of labour market conditions.
Payroll employment declines in November
Payroll employment fell 79,500 (-0.5%) in November—the first decline since May. The total number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer was down 1.1 million (-6.6%) compared with February.
The November Labour Force Survey (LFS)—for the week of November 8 to 14—recorded an increase of 55,000 (+0.3%) in the number of people with a job or business.
Payroll employment down in four provinces
As adjustments to tighter public health measures continued in November, payroll employment fell in four provinces: Manitoba (-1.7%; -9,700), Quebec (-1.2%; -42,900), Alberta (-0.7%; -12,500) and Ontario (-0.4%; -25,300), reflecting the impact of these measures. At the same time, increases were observed in Prince Edward Island (+0.7%; +400) and British Columbia (+0.4%; +7,800), while there was little change in the remaining provinces.
In early November, restrictions related to indoor dining and fitness facilities were eased in Ontario. Later in the month, however, the regions of Peel and Toronto were moved from "Red Control" level to "Lockdown," with indoor and outdoor dining services, personal care services, and indoor sports and recreational facilities required to close. In Manitoba, the province was moved to "critical level red" on November 12 and new measures affecting restaurants, recreational facilities and retail businesses were implemented. Much of Quebec remained at the "red" alert level in November, leading to the ongoing closure of indoor dining and many recreational and cultural facilities. In Alberta, targeted measures introduced on November 24 required the closure of many entertainment and recreation facilities, but not in-person dining services.
Hourly paid employees account for all of the payroll employment decline in November
The decline in payroll employment in November was entirely attributable to hourly paid employees (-1.0%; -86,600). Hourly paid employees tend to earn significantly less than salaried employees. In February 2020, for example, salaried employees earned an average of $1,410 per week, while hourly paid employees earned an average of $800 per week.
In November, the number of hourly paid employees was 8.7% below its pre-COVID level, compared with 3.7% below the pre-COVID level for salaried employees. In May, the number of hourly paid employees was 25.5% below its pre-COVID level, compared with 7.8% below the pre-COVID level for salaried employees.
Average weekly earnings up as lower-paid employees post larger share of job losses
Average weekly earnings were $1,110 in November, up 0.6% compared with October. This brought the year-over-year increase in earnings to 6.6%, as job losses since February have been concentrated among hourly paid—and largely lower-paid—employees.
Little change in both total and average hours worked
Total hours worked were little changed in November, and were 5.5% below the pre-COVID level. By comparison, during the recent low in May, total hours worked were 16.6% below the February level.
Average hours worked per week were little changed in November at 33.5 hours, a level at which the average has been hovering since July. In February, before COVID-19, payroll employees worked an average of 33.0 hours per week.
Decline in payroll employment driven by losses in services-producing sector
In November, payroll employment fell in the services-producing sector (-0.4%; -45,500), the first decline for this sector since May. Losses were largely concentrated in accommodation and food services (-48,200), with smaller declines in several other sectors, including arts, entertainment and recreation (-8,800) and transportation and warehousing (-6,700). Employment in the goods-producing sector was little changed.
In November, payroll employment in the services-producing sector and the goods-producing sector was 6.8% and 4.7% below the pre-COVID level, respectively.
Accommodation and food services post the largest decline in November
Payroll employment in accommodation and food services fell by 48,200 (-4.7%) in November, the first decline since May. Most of the monthly decline was in full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places (-37,400), consistent with restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining in several provinces. The number of payroll employees also decreased notably in the traveller accommodation (-4,700) and drinking places (-4,400) industries. The monthly decline in accommodation and food services brought payroll employment to 27.8% below its February level, with employment in the drinking places industry declining by almost half (-48.0%) over that period.
In November, all of the monthly decline in accommodation and food services was in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, in line with ongoing public health measures in these provinces. As reported in the Daily release on food services and drinking places, sales in this subsector fell for a second consecutive month, down 3.7% to $4.5 billion in November.
On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings in accommodation and food services were little changed at $431. This sector has traditionally been the lowest paying among all industrial sectors. The vast majority of payroll employees in this sector are paid on an hourly basis. In 2019, almost 9 out of 10 (88.4%) payroll employees in accommodation and food services were hourly paid, compared with an average of 58.2% for all sectors.
Employment declines in arts, entertainment and recreation as public health measures are tightened in several provinces
In arts, entertainment and recreation, payroll employment fell by 8,800 (-3.9%) in November, the result of declines in the amusement, gambling and recreation industries subsector. Within the subsector, all of the losses were in the other amusement and recreation industries category, which includes skiing facilities as well as recreational, sports and fitness centres. The largest losses in this sector were observed in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba—four provinces where restrictions on public gatherings had been tightened and sports and fitness centres closed at some point during the month.
Compared with February, payroll employment in arts, entertainment and recreation was down by 31.2% (-98,200), with all of the decline among hourly paid employees. Within the sector, payroll employment in the performing arts, spectator sports and related industries subsector continued to be the furthest from its pre-pandemic level in November (-48.0%; -30,700). In terms of numbers of payroll jobs, however, the largest decline from February to November was in the amusement, gambling and recreation industries subsector (-28.2%; -62,600).
Average weekly earnings in arts, entertainment and recreation were $706 in November, up 13.7% compared with 12 months earlier.
Payroll employment down in transportation and warehousing
Following two months of strong growth, payroll employment in transportation and warehousing fell by 6,700 (-0.9%) in November. This brought payroll employment in the sector to 4.7% below the level in February, which was still above the low in May, when payroll employment was down 13.5% from February. Month over month, decreases were largest in warehousing and storage (-1,900;-3.0%), postal service (-1,700; -2.2%) and truck transportation (-1,500; -0.8%).
On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings in the transportation and warehousing sector grew 5.5% to $1,164.
Health care and social assistance nearing pre-COVID level of employment
Payroll employment in health care and social assistance rose for a sixth consecutive month, up 11,600 (+0.6%) in November, bringing the sector to within 0.2% of its pre-COVID level.
In November, payroll employment was above the pre-COVID level in nursing and residential care facilities (+3.7% compared with February) and in ambulatory health care services (+2.9%), while it was below the February level in hospitals (-1.3%) and in social assistance (-7.6%). The gap between the November and February levels of employment in social assistance was largely due to individual and family services (which include, for example, services for the elderly and people with disabilities) and child day-care services, where, despite a gain in November, employment was still 9.4% and 9.8% below the pre-COVID level, respectively.
Average weekly earnings in health care and social assistance were $1,012 in November, up 6.7% compared with 12 months earlier.
Payroll employment growth in construction stalls
After six consecutive months of growth, payroll employment in construction was little changed in November, and was 4.4% below the pre-pandemic February level. At its lowest point in April, payroll employment in construction was 22.9% below its February level. As reported in the Daily release on investment in building construction, total investment in building construction declined for a third consecutive month, edging down 0.1% to $15.3 billion in November.
In November, payroll employment in construction increased in Quebec (+1.2%; +2,600), Newfoundland and Labrador (+4.5%; +600), and Nova Scotia (+0.5%; +100). These gains were offset primarily by decreases in Alberta (-1.1%; -1,700), Ontario (-0.2%; -700), and Manitoba (-1.0%; -300).
Average weekly earnings in the construction sector were $1,339 in November, up 4.8% compared with 12 months earlier.
Payroll employment little changed in manufacturing
Payroll employment in manufacturing was little changed in November, and was 4.8% below the level observed in February.
In November, increases in food manufacturing (+0.7%; +1,700) and primary metal manufacturing (+2.2%; +1,200) were offset by declines in other subsectors and industries. In particular, payroll employment declined in aerospace product and parts (-5.6%; -2,600). According to Monthly Survey of Manufacturing data, aerospace production fell 23.8% in November, following a 5.5% decrease in October.
Average weekly earnings in manufacturing were $1,175 in November, up 1.9% compared with 12 months earlier.
Employment in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction furthest from recovery among goods-producing sectors
Payroll employment in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction was little changed in November, and was further from full recovery than any other goods-producing sector, at 7.9% below the February level.
The lag in recovery of payroll employment in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction was almost entirely driven by Alberta, which held half of the national payroll employment in this sector in February. In Alberta, payroll employment in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction has continued to trend downward since February, decreasing in November (-0.4%; -500) to 15.2% below the February level. In the rest of Canada (excluding Alberta), payroll employment in the sector had almost fully recovered and was 0.6% below the pre-COVID level in November, after falling 9.5% below its February level in May.
Average weekly earnings in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction were $2,074 in November, little changed compared with 12 months earlier.
Monthly results from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey
In November, Canadian employers were actively recruiting for an estimated 523,000 positions as they continued to navigate public health measures and the threat of COVID-19 (not seasonally adjusted).
The job vacancy rate, which represents vacant positions as a proportion of all positions (vacant and occupied) was 3.3% in November, following a rate of 3.5% in October (not seasonally adjusted). While monthly and quarterly job vacancy statistics are not directly comparable due to seasonal patterns and month-to-month variation within quarters, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the quarterly job vacancy rate ranged from 3.0% to 3.5% between the first quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
The job vacancy rate is a key measure of unmet labour demand and, in conjunction with other indicators such as payroll employment and the unemployment rate, it provides valuable insight into the labour market. For example, a high job vacancy rate could represent either an increased pace of recruiting, or difficulty on the part of employers in finding or retaining suitable candidates.
Health care and social assistance has most vacancies and highest vacancy rate
In November, the health care and social assistance sector accounted for more than one-fifth (112,700) of all job vacancies, and had a job vacancy rate of 5.2% (not seasonally adjusted). For reference, the job vacancy rate for this sector was 3.8% in October and ranged from 3.0% to 3.3% from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020.
Prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, payroll employment in health care and social assistance had been on a long-term upward trend. Since reaching a low in May, employment in the sector has been trending up, with most of the recent employment growth being in ambulatory health care services and social assistance.
In November, the job vacancy rate was highest in Yukon (4.2%) and Quebec (4.0%) (not seasonally adjusted). The job vacancy rates were lowest in Saskatchewan (1.7%) and Manitoba (2.1%). The remaining provinces all posted job vacancy rates between 2.7% and 3.6%.
Information on job vacancies will continue to be incorporated in future monthly releases of payroll estimates results. A more detailed analysis will be released with the quarterly estimates (October to December 2020) of the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey in March 2021.
December SEPH results—to be released on February 25—will provide detailed information on the subsectors that continue to be most affected by the re-implementation and tightening of measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
Sustainable Development Goals
On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.
The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the global sustainable development goals. This release will be used to measure the following goals:
Note to readers
Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours
The key objective of the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) is to provide a monthly portrait of the level of earnings, employment and hours worked, by detailed industry, at the national, provincial and territorial levels.
SEPH estimates are produced by integrating information from three sources: a census of approximately 1 million payroll deduction records provided by the Canada Revenue Agency; the Business Payrolls Survey, which collects data from a sample of 15,000 establishments; and administrative records of federal, provincial and territorial public administration employment, provided by these levels of government.
Estimates of average weekly earnings and hours worked are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level. Payroll employment estimates are based on a census of administrative records and are not subject to sampling variability.
With each release of SEPH data, data for the preceding month are revised. Users are encouraged to use the most up-to-date data available for each month.
Statistics Canada also produces employment estimates from its Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a monthly household survey, the main objective of which is to divide the working-age population into three mutually exclusive groups: the employed (including the self-employed), the unemployed and those not in the labour force. This survey is the official source for the unemployment rate, and it collects data on the sociodemographic characteristics of all those in the labour market.
As a result of conceptual and methodological differences, estimates of changes from the SEPH and LFS differ occasionally. However, the trends in the data are similar. For a more in-depth discussion of the conceptual differences between employment measures from the LFS and SEPH, refer to Section 8 of the Guide to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (). 72-203-G
Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate comparisons because the effects of seasonal variations are removed. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.
Non-farm payroll employment data are for all hourly and salaried employees, and for the "other employees" category, which includes piece-rate and commission-only employees.
Unless otherwise specified, average weekly hours data are for hourly and salaried employees only, and exclude businesses that could not be classified to a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.
All earnings data include overtime and exclude businesses that could not be classified to a NAICS code. Earnings data are based on gross taxable payroll before source deductions. Average weekly earnings are derived by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.
Job Vacancy and Wage Survey
Beginning with the release of October 2020 data, new preliminary monthly estimates from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) are released on a monthly basis. These estimates provide more timely information on the number of job vacancies and the job vacancy rate by province and by industrial sector.
The JVWS collection is done on a quarterly basis. The quarterly sample of business locations is allocated to the three collection months of the quarter, approximately balanced by province and by industrial sector across each of the three months. This allows for the production of both quarterly and monthly estimates.
The JVWS also provides comprehensive quarterly data on job vacancies by industrial sector and detailed occupations for Canada, the provinces, territories and economic regions, offered hourly wage and job vacancy characteristics. Quarterly data for the second and third quarters of 2020 are unavailable due to survey operations being temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about the concepts and use of data from the JVWS is available in the Guide to the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (). 75-514-G
Preliminary monthly estimates are produced for job vacancies, job vacancy rates, and payroll employment, using available responses from business locations sampled in the corresponding reference month. The reference period for JVWS is the first day of the respective month.
These preliminary monthly estimates are revised and finalized when the corresponding quarterly estimates are released or shortly thereafter. Users are encouraged to use the most up-to-date data available for each month.
JVWS estimates are not seasonally adjusted. Therefore, month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter comparisons should be interpreted with caution as they may reflect seasonal movements. In addition, year-over-year comparisons between estimates of different frequencies (month vs quarter) should be interpreted with caution as job vacancy statistics can vary month to month within a quarter.
While JVWS employment is calibrated to Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), SEPH payroll employment and JVWS preliminary monthly employment figures may differ due to calibration grouping and differences in scope and reference period.
Real-time data tables
Real-time tables 14-10-0357-01, 14-10-0358-01, 14-10-0331-01 and 14-10-0332-01 will be updated on February 15, 2021.
Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours and job vacancies for December 2020 will be released on February 25, 2021.
More information about the concepts and use of the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is available in the Guide to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (72-203-G).
The product "Earnings and payroll employment in brief: Interactive app" (14200001) is now available. This interactive data visualization application provides a comprehensive picture of the Canadian labour market using the most recent data from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours. The estimates are seasonally adjusted and available by province and largest industrial sector. Historical estimates going back 10 years are also included. The interactive application allows users to quickly and easily explore and personalize the information presented. Combine multiple provinces and industrial sectors to create your own labour market domains of interest.
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).