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Labour Force Survey, April 2021

Released: 2021-05-07

April Labour Force Survey (LFS) data reflect labour market conditions during the week of April 11 to 17.

Public health measures tightened in several provinces in late March and early April prior to the LFS reference week. In Ontario, a province-wide stay-at-home order was implemented on April 8, which set capacity limits for many non-essential businesses, while permitting curb-side pick-up and home delivery. Ontario schools were closed for spring break during the week of April 12. British Columbia was under "circuit breaker" restrictions as of March 30, which included limits on indoor dining and gyms not seen since November. Stricter public health measures were also re-instated in many parts of Quebec, including the suspension of various business activities, as well as the extension of curfews. In addition, remote learning continued in schools in some regions of Quebec.

Highlights

Employment falls in April as public health measures are tightened

Employment fell by 207,000 (-1.1%) in April and the unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 8.1%.

Employment declined in both full-time (-129,000; -0.8%) and part-time (-78,000; -2.3%) work. The number of employed people working less than half their usual hours increased by 288,000 (+27.2%).

The number of Canadians working from home grew by 100,000 to 5.1 million.

Total hours worked fell 2.7% in April, driven by declines in educational services, accommodation and food services, as well as retail trade.

The labour underutilization rate, which captures the full range of people who are available and want to work, rose 2.3 percentage points to 17.0% in April.

The number of Canadians unemployed for 27 weeks or more increased to 486,000.

Employment declines in industries most affected by public health restrictions

In April, employment fell in several industries directly impacted by public health restrictions, namely retail trade (-84,000); accommodation and food services (-59,000); and information, culture and recreation (-26,000).

Accommodation and food services accounted for more than two-thirds (70.9%) of the overall employment gap (-503,000) compared with February 2020.

Employment increased in public administration (+15,000); professional, scientific and technical services (+15,000); and finance, insurance and real estate (+15,000), three industries where many activities can be performed remotely.

Employment in goods-producing industries was little changed in April.

Fewer people working in Ontario and British Columbia

Following gains over the previous two months, employment in Ontario fell 153,000 (-2.1%) in April.

Employment in British Columbia declined by 43,000 (-1.6%)—the first decrease since substantial employment losses in March and April 2020.

Employment increased in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, while there was little change in all other provinces.

Employment among youth falls as public health restrictions tighten

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 101,000 (-4.2%) in April, with losses concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia.

After notable growth in February and March, employment among people aged 25 to 54 fell 48,000 (-0.4%), with the decline primarily in full-time work for women.

After returning to pre-pandemic levels in March, employment among people aged 55 and older fell 58,000 (-1.4%), with losses primarily in full-time work (-45,000; -1.4%).

Among 15- to 69-year-olds, the unemployment rate for population groups designated as visible minorities increased 0.5 percentage points to 9.9% (not seasonally adjusted).

Third wave of pandemic leads to employment losses

Employment fell by 207,000 (-1.1%) in April and the unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 8.1%. This followed cumulative employment gains of 562,000 over the previous two months.

The majority of the April employment decline occurred in Ontario and British Columbia, in industries most affected by the recent tightening of public health restrictions. Nationally, employment fell for both young men and women aged 15 to 24, as well as for women aged 25 and older. Employment declined in both full-time (-129,000; -0.8%) and part-time (-78,000; -2.3%) work.

In addition to employment losses, the number of employed people working less than half of their usual hours increased by 288,000 (+27.2%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment fell in April as the third wave of the pandemic led to a tightening of restrictions
Employment fell in April as the third wave of the pandemic led to a tightening of restrictions

Declines among private sector employees driven by three industries

Virtually all of the employment decline in April was among private sector employees (-204,000; -1.7%). Losses in April followed two months of strong gains totalling 427,000 and left the number of private sector employees down 4.1% (-503,000) compared with pre-pandemic levels.

In recent months, employment in three industries that typically account for just under one-third of private sector employees—retail trade; accommodation and food services; and information, culture and recreation—has risen and fallen in parallel with the easing and tightening of public health measures. In contrast, in some industries less directly affected by these restrictions—such as professional, scientific and technical services, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing—the number of private sector employees has increased steadily and surpassed pre-pandemic levels (not seasonally adjusted).

In the public sector, the number of employees was relatively unaffected by the tightening of public health measures in April and was up 147,000 (+3.8%) compared with February 2020.

After posting a largely continuous decline since the onset of the pandemic, followed by a notable increase in March, self-employment held steady in April. Proportionally, it remained further from pre-pandemic levels than both private sector and public sector employment, down 5.1% (-147,000) compared with February 2020.

Recent data on business openings and closures reveal that, as of January 2021, there were 20,000 fewer active businesses in Canada compared with a year earlier. Consistent with employment results from the LFS, the largest declines were seen among businesses in accommodation and food services, as well as information, culture, and recreation. In contrast, there were more businesses operating in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Changes in private sector employment driven by public health measures
Changes in private sector employment driven by public health measures

Number of Canadians adapting to COVID-19 by working from home remains above 3 million

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Canadians working from home increased sharply, as workers and employers adapted to the initial set of public health measures. Since then, working from home has decreased and increased in response to the easing or tightening of public health measures, demonstrating the continued importance of this adaptation to labour market and economic activity in industries and occupations where it is feasible.

In April 2021, as public health measures were tightened, the number of Canadians working from home who worked at least half of their usual hours once again increased, by 100,000, to 5.1 million, including 3.1 million who usually work at locations other than home. Of those who worked at least half their usual hours in April, 30.6% worked from home, up from 29.1% in March.

At the same time, the number of people working at locations other than home fell by 700,000 to 11.6 million. The decline was attributable to a combination of a rise in absences and a decrease in employment related to the tightening of public health restrictions, as well as more workers being on vacation or other forms of leave. In the educational services industry in Ontario, more workers than usual were absent from their jobs due to the delayed spring break.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadians continue to adapt to public health restrictions by working from home
Canadians continue to adapt to public health restrictions by working from home

Total hours worked falls

Total hours worked fell 2.7% in April, driven by declines in educational services, accommodation and food services, as well as retail trade. The decrease in hours worked in educational services is primarily due to the shifting of Ontario's spring school break from March to April. Hours have been on an upward trend since the beginning of 2021; however, with the decline in April, hours worked were down 3.9% compared with February 2020 pre-pandemic levels.

Hours worked among the self-employed fell 5.6% in April 2021 and were 12.8% lower than in February 2020. In contrast, hours among employees had returned to pre-pandemic levels in March, but the decline in April reduced them to within 2.2% of February 2020 levels.

Rise in unemployment and labour underutilization

The unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 8.1% in April, driven by increases in the number of people searching for work (+67,000; +4.9%) and those on temporary layoff (+57,000; +37.6%). With the exception of up-ticks in December, January and April, the unemployment rate has trended downward from its peak of 13.7% in May 2020.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unemployment rate ticks up during third wave
Unemployment rate ticks up during third wave

The number of Canadians who wanted a job but did not look for one rose by 54,000 (+11.0%) in April. As a result, the adjusted unemployment rate—which includes this group along with those who meet the definition of unemployed—was 10.5%, up 0.8 percentage points from the previous month.

The labour underutilization rate, which captures the full range of people who are available and want to work, rose 2.3 percentage points to 17.0% in April. All components of the underutilization rate remained higher than in February 2020, and included people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours (+534,000; +65.9%); job searchers (+391,000; +37.6%); those on temporary layoff or with arrangements to start a job in the near future (+103,000 +98.1%); and those who wanted a job but did not look for one (+153,000; +38.5%).

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: All indicators of labour market underutilization rise in April
All indicators of labour market underutilization rise in April

Long-term unemployment continues to rise

Long-term unemployment—defined as the number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more—increased to 486,000 (+21,000; +4.6%) in April, reflecting the continued flow into this category of those who lost jobs in the spring, summer and fall of 2020 and who have remained unemployed since. Among the long-term unemployed, 312,000 had been without work for 52 weeks or more as of April. By way of comparison, in February 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, less than one-third of this number (99,000) had been unemployed for at least a year.

Long-term unemployment is a key indicator of mismatches between labour supply and demand, as workers who lose jobs in some occupations may face difficulties finding work in the same or related fields. Compared with February 2020, the number of long-term unemployed was up by 171.3% in April, with most of the increases in occupations most directly affected by COVID-19 public health measures, including chefs and cooks, occupations in food and beverage industries, and retail salespersons.

For individuals, being unemployed for extended periods may be associated with a range of adverse effects, including health impacts, difficulty returning to work and delays in acquiring work experience. From February 2020 to April 2021, long-term unemployment increased in all major demographic groups, including core-aged men (+116,000; +223.2%) and women (+79,000; +176.6%). Among those aged 55 and older, long-term unemployment increased by 33,000 (+102.8%) for men and by 40,000 (+195.6%) for women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in larger increases in long-term unemployment among young men (+32,000; +185.3%) than young women (+8,000; +61.4%). This reflects the fact that labour force participation for male youth is similar to its pre-COVID level (64.3% in February 2020, compared with 63.6% in April 2021), with young men generally responding to employment losses by looking for new work. In contrast, labour force participation among female youth declined by 3.9 percentage points from February 2020 (65.3%) to April 2021 (61.4%), with a net drop of 91,000 in the number of young women participating in the labour market.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Long-term unemployment has more than doubled across most demographic groups
Long-term unemployment has more than doubled across most demographic groups

Unemployment rate increases among Southeast Asian and Filipino Canadians

Among 15- to 69-year-olds, the unemployment rate for population groups designated as visible minorities increased 0.5 percentage points to 9.9% in April. In contrast, the unemployment rate among Canadians who were not Indigenous or a visible minority was little changed at 7.6% (not adjusted for seasonality).

In April, the unemployment rate increased among both Southeast Asian Canadians (+4.1 percentage points to 13.6%) and Filipino Canadians (+1.4 percentage points to 6.3%), two groups where the proportion of workers employed in accommodation and food services is above the national average.

Labour force growth lags behind population growth

Although one of the notable impacts of COVID-19 has been a reduction in the number of new immigrants arriving in Canada, population growth has continued, albeit at a slower rate (Canada's population estimates, fourth quarter 2020). As a result, the population aged 15 and older was 302,000 (+1.0%) higher in April 2021 than in February 2020.

To fully understand current and emerging labour market trends, it is essential to consider employment change against the backdrop of this population change. For example, to maintain a constant employment rate—defined as employment as a proportion of the population aged 15 and older—employment must grow at the same rate as population. From February 2020 to April 2021, employment growth of 183,000 would have been necessary to maintain a steady employment rate. Instead, employment declined by 503,000 over this period and the employment rate dropped 2.2 percentage points, from 61.8% to 59.6%.

Similarly, the size of the labour force—that is, the total number of people who are either employed or meet the definition of unemployed—would have had to increase by 194,000 from February 2020 to April 2021 to keep pace with population growth. In fact, the size of the labour force was essentially unchanged over the period and the participation rate fell from 65.5% to 64.9%.

Employment declines in industries most affected by public health restrictions

In April, employment fell in several industries directly impacted by public health restrictions, namely retail trade (-84,000), accommodation and food services (-59,000), and information, culture and recreation (-26,000). Employment also declined on a seasonally adjusted basis in educational services (-36,000), as schools in Ontario were closed because of the delayed March break.

Industries where many activities can be performed remotely were little affected by the new restrictions. Indeed, employment increased in public administration (+15,000), professional, scientific and technical services (+15,000), and finance, insurance and real estate (+15,000).

The number of people working in goods-producing industries was little changed in April.

Employment in retail trade loses ground

Employment fell by 84,000 (-3.8%) in retail trade in April, as stricter restrictions on the operation of non-essential stores were implemented in Ontario, Alberta and several regions of Quebec. Prior to the introduction of new public health measures in April, retail sales had been strong, increasing nationally by 4.8% in February and by an estimated 2.3% in March, with the LFS reporting employment gains in both months.

In April, employment in the industry remained higher than during the January lockdowns, but was 4.9% below the level recorded before the pandemic in February 2020.

Fewer people working in the hard-hit accommodation and food services industry in April

The number of people working in accommodation and food services fell 59,000 (-6.4%) in April, largely as a result of losses in Ontario and British Columbia, where bans on indoor dining were re-introduced in late March and early April. With the decline, employment in the industry fell to 357,000 (-29.8%) below its pre-COVID level. Accommodation and food services account for more than two-thirds (70.9%) of the overall employment gap (-503,000) compared with February 2020.

One year after employment reached its lowest point during the peak of the pandemic, sales and service workers in accommodation and food services remained one of the most affected groups in the Canadian labour market. In particular, food and beverage servers have seen little recovery, as employment in April was only slightly above April 2020 levels (+17,000), and was 129,000 lower than in April 2019 (not seasonally adjusted). In April 2019, most food and beverage servers were women aged 15 to 24 (32.9%) or 25 to 54 (35.2%).

Data from the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions for the period from January to February 2021 indicate that over one-quarter (26.2%) of food services and drinking places reported that they could continue to operate for less than 12 months before considering closure or bankruptcy (see Impact of COVID-19 on food services and drinking places, first quarter of 2021).

Employment declines in information, culture and recreation as public health measures constrain recovery

Employment in information, culture, and recreation fell by 26,000 (-3.6%) in April, erasing about 40% of the gain observed in March. The employment recovery in this industry continued to be constrained by ongoing public health measures that restrict travel, indoor recreation, and the size of public gatherings.

Employment in this industry had returned to within 3.9% of its pre-COVID level in September 2020, but the losses in April, combined with a downward trend during most of the fall and winter, brought employment in information, culture and recreation to 81,000 (-10.5%) below February 2020 levels. Among all occupations in this industry, program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport, and fitness experienced the greatest employment losses compared with two years earlier, in April 2019 (-40,000, not seasonally adjusted).

Chart 6  Chart 6: Accommodation and food services account for more than two-thirds of the employment gap since February 2020
Accommodation and food services account for more than two-thirds of the employment gap since February 2020

Employment in educational services falls as schools close for Ontario's delayed spring break

Following gains in February and March, employment in educational services dropped by 36,000 (-2.4%) in April, the first decline since the peak of the pandemic in April 2020. A large part of the decrease in April was attributable to a drop of 44,000 in Ontario, which offset a similar increase in March. These two monthly movements reflect the disruption of normal seasonal employment patterns associated with spring break in Ontario, which was moved from March to April in response to COVID-19. Some workers who provide education-related services as contractors or temporary employees are not employed during school breaks. From March to April, the number of temporary employees in educational services in the province fell 30,000, while the number of permanent employees edged down by 9,200 (not seasonally adjusted).

Little employment change in health care and social assistance as average weekly hours are up in hospitals compared with a year earlier

The number of people working in health care and social assistance was little changed in April, as employment continued to hover around its pre-COVID level.

Health care workers across Canada have responded to growing pressure as COVID-related hospitalizations increase. In April, workers in hospitals worked an average of 31.5 hours per week, up 1.8 hours compared with the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020 and up 4.4 hours compared with April 2019. The increase in average hours over the last two years was widespread across provinces and has affected both men (+4.9) and women (+4.3).

Employment grows in professional services, finance and insurance, and public administration

After posting little monthly change from January to March, employment increased by 15,000 (+0.9%) in professional, scientific, and technical services, resuming an upward trend that has brought employment in the industry to 107,000 (+6.9%) above its pre-COVID level.

Employment also increased for the first time since January in public administration (+15,000; +1.5%) as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+15,000; +1.1%). Net employment gains compared with February 2020 reached 54,000 (+4.4%) in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing, and 45,000 (+4.5%) in public administration.

Little change in the number of people working in goods-producing industries

The number of people working in goods-producing industries was little changed in April.

While employment remains near February 2020 levels in manufacturing and utilities, and was slightly above in natural resources (+20,000; +6.5%), the number of people working in agriculture (-39,000; -13.0%) and construction (-39,000; -2.6%) has yet to return to pre-COVID levels.

Fewer people working in Ontario and British Columbia

Employment decreased in Ontario and British Columbia in April, coinciding with the implementation of more stringent public health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Employment increased in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, while there was little change in all other provinces.

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

Following gains over the previous two months, employment in Ontario fell 153,000 (-2.1%) in April, mostly in full-time work. A sizable loss occurred among youth (-73,000; -7.8%). As restrictions tightened with a stay-at-home order and lockdowns across the province, notable employment declines were seen in retail trade, accommodation and food services, and information, culture and recreation. There were also losses in educational services, coinciding with the atypical April school break. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto, which was already in strict lockdown prior to April, employment declined by 53,000 (-1.6%). The Ontario unemployment rate rose 1.5 percentage points to 9.0%, with people on temporary layoff and job searchers both contributing to a rise in unemployment.

Ontario has been a leading driver of changing labour market conditions in recent months. While the province represents approximately 40% of total employment, it has accounted for at least 60% of the net national employment change in three of the past four months.

Employment in British Columbia declined by 43,000 (-1.6%) in April, the first decrease since substantial employment losses in March and April 2020. Employment fell mostly in part-time work and among youth (-27,000; -7.4%). Consistent with circuit breaker lockdowns that were implemented across the entire province prior to the LFS reference week, employment fell in accommodation and food services, and information, culture and recreation. Employment fell 55,000 (-5.9%) among population groups designated as visible minorities, including a drop of 35,000 among Filipino Canadians living in the province, while it was little changed among non-visible minority Canadians living in the province (not seasonally adjusted). Over half of the employment drop in April occurred in Vancouver CMA (-26,000; -1.7%).

With fewer people participating in the labour market, the unemployment rate in British Columbia was little changed at 7.1% in April, but was up from the February 2020 pre-pandemic rate of 5.1%.

Following gains in February and March, employment in Quebec was little changed in April as the province continued to follow a set of curfews and lockdowns. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.6%. In the CMA of Montréal, employment was also little changed as tighter public health restrictions were reintroduced, including a return to an earlier starting time for the evening curfew.

In contrast to the national decline, in Saskatchewan, employment increased by 9,500 (+1.7%) and the unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 6.6%. In New Brunswick, employment rose (+4,100; +1.1%) and the unemployment rate was 8.5%, down 0.7 percentage points from one month earlier.

Chart 7  Chart 7: Unemployment close to pre-pandemic levels in some provinces
Unemployment close to pre-pandemic levels in some provinces

Employment among youth falls as public health restrictions tighten

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 101,000 (-4.2%) in April, with losses concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia. Losses in April largely offset gains in March and resulted in youth employment being 263,000 (-10.1%) below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020, with young women (-164,000; -12.7%) remaining further behind than young men (-99,000; -7.5%).

Employment losses in April were somewhat larger for young men (-59,000; -4.7%) than for young women (-42,000; -3.6%). Among young men, losses were split between part-time (-38,000; -7.3%) and full-time (-21,000; -2.8%) employment, while the decline for young women was entirely in part-time work.

Chart 8  Chart 8: Young women continue to feel labour market effects of COVID-19
Young women continue to feel labour market effects of COVID-19

The decline in youth employment coincided with an increase in unemployment of 53,000 (+13.4%), driven by more job searchers among young men, and an increase in temporary layoffs among young women. The unemployment rate rose twice as much for young men (+2.9 percentage points to 17.0%) as for young women (+1.4 percentage points to 15.2%).

Youth participation in the labour force declined by 49,000 (-1.7%) in April, with the participation rate falling more sharply for young women (-1.2 percentage points to 61.4%) than for young men (-0.8 percentage points to 63.6%). While labour force participation for young men has essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels, the rate for young women was 3.9 percentage points lower in April than in February 2020, corresponding to a drop in the female youth labour force of 91,000 (-6.4%).

Core-aged women face reduced hours and temporary layoffs

After notable growth in February and March, employment among people aged 25 to 54 fell 48,000 (-0.4%) in April, with the decline primarily in full-time work for women. Following losses in April, employment was 117,000 (-2.0%) below its pre-pandemic level for core-aged women and down 69,000 (-1.1%) for core-aged men.

Among the employed, the proportion of people working less than half of their usual hours increased for both core-aged women (+2.0 percentage points to 7.3%) and core-aged men (+1.0 percentage point to 5.5%) in April. The increase in the number of employed core-aged women absent from work for the full week was particularly notable, rising 45.5% (+104,000) from March. Part of this increase can be attributed to the delayed spring break in Ontario, with absences up among workers in educational services—the majority of whom are women—as well as among mothers (not seasonally adjusted).

The unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to 6.8% for core-aged women with the increase in unemployment entirely in temporary layoffs. The rate was little changed for core-aged men at 6.5%.

The participation rate edged down 0.3 percentage points to 83.6% among core-aged women and was virtually unchanged among core-aged men (91.3%). The participation rate for both sexes in this age group had returned to pre-pandemic levels in September 2020.

Employment falls among older Canadians

After returning to pre-pandemic levels in March, employment among people aged 55 and older fell 58,000 (-1.4%) in April, with losses primarily in full-time work (-45,000; -1.4%). Compared with February 2020, employment among older men was little changed, but employment among older women was down 43,000 (-2.3%) following losses in April.

Compared with April 2019, employment among people aged 55 and older fell most in the business, building, and other support services, and accommodations and food services industries. In contrast to other age groups, employment for older women fell in health care and social assistance, but rose in retail trade. Employment for older Canadians was also up in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; and professional, scientific and technical services compared with April 2019 (not seasonally adjusted).

The unemployment rate for women aged 55 and older increased by 2.2 percentage points to 7.9% in April, while their participation rate was unchanged from March at 32.0%. In contrast, the participation rate for men aged 55 and older edged down 0.3 percentage points to 43.4%, while their unemployment rate was little changed at 7.0%.

Employment rate for very recent immigrants rises as population decline continues

COVID-19 travel restrictions have brought the number of newcomers to Canada to a record low. With the population of very recent immigrants (people who have been in Canada for five years or less) initially falling faster than their employment, the employment rate for this group recovered quickly from losses early in the pandemic. In the three months ending in April, 66.1% of very recent immigrants were employed, up 2.1 percentage points from the three months ending in February 2020 (not seasonally adjusted).

The employment rate remained lower than pre-pandemic levels among immigrants who have been in Canada for more than five years (-2.1 percentage points to 57.6%) and people born in Canada (-2.6 percentage points to 58.8%) (three-month moving average, not seasonally adjusted).

Employment rate remains below pre-pandemic levels for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians

Among Indigenous people, the employment rate in April was 54.0%, 2.2 percentage points lower than immediately before the pandemic. Over the same period, the employment rate among non-Indigenous Canadians was also down 2.2 percentage points, to 59.0% (three-month moving average, not seasonally adjusted).

Looking ahead: Summer jobs for students

May will mark the beginning of the summer student job season—an important source of income and work experience for many youth. In 2020, students entered a job market barely beginning to recover from the unprecedented employment losses of March and April, and, in May 2020, summer student employment was 40.1% lower than in the previous year.

This year, the Canadian labour market in general is much closer to pre-pandemic conditions. However, significant challenges remain in several industries that typically account for the majority of summer student work. In the summer of 2019, for example, nearly two-thirds (64.6%) of employed students intending to return to school in the fall worked in retail trade, accommodation and food services, or information, culture, and recreation.

Among these industries, employment in retail trade is closest to pre-COVID levels, although it did decline in January and April in response to tighter public health restrictions affecting non-essential retail businesses. Restrictions on this industry have continued in several jurisdictions and, in Ontario, are currently scheduled to remain in place through the May LFS reference week. The prospects for summer jobs in accommodation and food services, as well as information, culture, and recreation—where employment remains much further from recovery—will also likely depend on evolving public health measures and the safe return to in-person leisure activities.













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 April are for the week of April 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.

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

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).

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. Approximately 41,500 interviews were completed in April.

The distribution of LFS interviews in April 2021 compared with March 2021, was as follows:

Telephone interviews – from interviewer homes

• March 2021: 66.6%

• April 2021: 65.2%

Online interviews

• March 2021: 33.4%

• April 2021: 34.8%

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 April 2021 analysis

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.'

Information on population groups

Beginning in July 2020, the LFS includes a question asking respondents to report the population group(s) 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

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, people who identify as a member of a population group (visible minority) are analyzed separately.

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 June 4, 2021. May data will reflect labour market conditions during the week of May 9 to 15.

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 by province, sex, age group and industry.

The product "Labour Market Indicators, by province and census metropolitan area, seasonally adjusted" (Catalogue number71-607-X) is also available. This interactive dashboard provides customizable access to key labour market indicators.

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 labour market indicators for Canada, province, territory and economic region.

The product "Labour Force Survey: Public Use Microdata File" (Catalogue number71M0001X) is also available. This public use microdata file contains non-aggregated data for a wide variety of variables collected from the Labour Force Survey. The data have been modified to ensure that no individual or business is directly or indirectly identified. This product is for users who prefer to do their own analysis by focusing on specific subgroups in the population or by cross-classifying variables that are not in our catalogued products.

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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