The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies, July 2021

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Released: 2021-09-28

Average weekly earnings — Canada


July 2021

1.8% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.L.


July 2021

-1.5% decrease

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — P.E.I.


July 2021

0.3% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.S.


July 2021

3.2% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.B.


July 2021

-0.2% decrease

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Que.


July 2021

0.6% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Ont.


July 2021

1.1% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Man.


July 2021

1.7% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Sask.


July 2021

2.5% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Alta.


July 2021

2.7% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — B.C.


July 2021

4.4% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Y.T.


July 2021

3.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.W.T.


July 2021

2.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Nvt.


July 2021

2.7% increase

(12-month change)

Payroll employment rose by 324,800 (+2.0%) in July. The increase was driven mainly by gains in the services-producing sector in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

In June, following the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, most jurisdictions began to substantially ease public health restrictions affecting indoor and outdoor dining, recreation and cultural activities, retail shopping, and personal care services. By July, this easing was largely complete in most jurisdictions.

Hourly paid employees drive payroll employment increase in July

Payroll employment—or the number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer—increased by 324,800 (+2.0%) in July, the largest monthly increase since September 2020. Compared with February 2020, payroll employment was down by 427,800 (-2.5%) in July 2021. Hourly-paid payroll employment was 2.0% below the February 2020 level, while salary-paid payroll employment was little changed.

Payroll employment was up in nine provinces in July, with Ontario (+183,800; +3.0%) and Alberta (+46,300; +2.4%) seeing the largest increases. Despite these monthly gains, payroll employment remained further from its pre-COVID February 2020 level in Ontario (-255,300; -3.8%) and Alberta (-63,300; -3.2%) than in all other provinces. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were the lone provinces where payroll employment had surpassed its pre-COVID payroll employment level.

July payroll employment gains were driven by the services-producing sector in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, as indoor capacity restrictions were eased in Ontario, and lifted in Alberta and British Columbia. Gains were concentrated among hourly paid employees (+301,000; +3.2%), which accounted for more than 90% of the July increase. Nearly half of the employment gain in the month was in accommodation and food services, and retail trade—two sectors with high concentrations of hourly paid employees.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Payroll employment increases in July at fastest rate since September 2020
Payroll employment increases in July at fastest rate since September 2020

Payroll employment continues to increase in services-producing sectors as public health measures ease

As public health measures were eased in many jurisdictions, payroll employment increased by 315,800 (+2.4%) in services-producing sectors.

Payroll employment increased by 95,400 (+9.9%) in accommodation and food services in July, with almost half of the increase occurring in Ontario. Nationally, the majority of the gains were in the food services and drinking places subsector (+81,400; +9.7%). Despite the increase in the month, payroll employment in accommodation and food services was 20.8% below its pre-COVID level.

Payroll employment in retail trade increased by 46,600 (+2.4%) in July, with two-fifths of the increase occurring in the clothing and clothing accessories (+19,400; +11.4%) subsector.

In the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, payroll employment increased (+30,000; +15.5%) in July, but was 29.2% below its pre-COVID level. Nearly all the gains in the month were in the amusement, gambling and recreation industries subsector (+26,400; +19.4%).

Second consecutive increase in the goods-producing sector

There was a small increase in payroll employment in the goods-producing sector in July (+4,600; +0.2%), as a gain in manufacturing (+8,700; +0.6%) was offset by small declines in construction (-2,700; -0.3%) and forestry, logging and support (-400; -1.1%). This was the second consecutive monthly increase in payroll employment in the goods-producing sector, bringing it to within 1.8% of its pre-COVID level.

Average weekly earnings increase in July

Despite employment gains being concentrated in industries typically associated with lower-wage jobs, average weekly earnings rose 1.0% in July to $1,133. Gains were observed in British Columbia (+2.4% to $1,143), Alberta (+2.1% to $1,240), Ontario (+1.3% to $1,167) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.3% to $1,104). Average weekly earnings decreased in New Brunswick (-1.6% to $999) and Quebec (-0.7% to $1,054).

In general, changes in average weekly earnings are the result of a number of factors, including wage growth; changes in the composition of employment by industry, occupation and level of job experience; and average hours worked per week.

Average hours worked little changed in July

Average hours worked were little changed in July, at 33.5 hours per week. Hourly paid employees worked an average of 31.2 hours per week, 1.6% above the February 2020 level, while salaried employees worked an average of 37.2 hours per week, 1.1% higher than in February 2020.

Job vacancies remain high entering July

At the start of July, Canadian employers were actively recruiting for an estimated 805,500 job vacancies, similar to the level in June (796,900). The job vacancy rate, which measures vacant positions as a proportion of all positions (vacant and occupied), was 4.8% in July. Since October 2020, the job vacancy rate had ranged from 3.0% in December 2020 to 4.9% in June 2021 (data from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey are unadjusted for seasonality).

The accommodation and food services sector had more vacancies at the start of July (132,800) than any other sector and accounted for one-sixth of all job vacancies. This sector also had the highest job vacancy rate (11.6%) as job vacancies reached an all-time high, while employment entering July remained below its pre-COVID level.

Retail trade had the second largest number of job vacancies in July (101,300) and the job vacancy rate was 4.9%, its highest level since October 2020.

There were 97,800 job vacancies in the health care and social assistance sector in July, fewer than in each of the previous three months. The job vacancy rate in the sector was 4.3%.

Quebec (5.7%) and British Columbia (5.6%) had the highest job vacancy rates among the provinces in July. The job vacancy rate was lowest in Manitoba (2.9%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (3.0%).

Preliminary June estimates released on August 26 have been revised and released as final. All references to June estimates refer to the final values.

Looking ahead: Further loosening and removal of public health measures

By August, most jurisdictions in Canada were in the final or near-final stages of their public health reopening plans. In addition, for the first time since March 2020, on August 9, 2021, fully vaccinated non-essential travellers from the United States were permitted to enter Canada without needing to quarantine, expanding potential clientele for businesses in tourist areas. August data for the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey—to be released on October 28—will provide detailed information on sectors and subsectors that may have benefitted from this further loosening of public health measures.

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 following 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 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.

Payroll employment, as measured by the SEPH, refers to 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.

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 the 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 the SEPH, refer to Section 8 of the Guide to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (Catalogue number72-203-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, preliminary monthly estimates from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) are published 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.

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 both quarterly and monthly estimates to be produced.

The JVWS also provides comprehensive quarterly data on job vacancies by industrial sector and detailed occupation for Canada and the provinces, territories and economic regions; offered hourly wages; and job vacancy characteristics. Quarterly data for the second and third quarters of 2020 are unavailable because survey operations were 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 (Catalogue number75-514-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 the 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.

While JVWS employment is calibrated to the SEPH, SEPH payroll employment and JVWS preliminary monthly employment figures may differ because of calibration grouping and differences in scope and reference period.

Real-time data tables

Real-time data tables 14-10-0357-01, 14-10-0358-01, 14-10-0331-01 and 14-10-0332-01 will be updated on October 18.

Next release

Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies for August will be released on October 28, 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 (Catalogue number72-203-G).

The product "Earnings and payroll employment in brief: Interactive app" (Catalogue number14200001) 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.

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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

Date modified: