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Payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies, May 2022

Released: 2022-07-28

Average weekly earnings — Canada


May 2022

2.5% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.L.


May 2022

5.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — P.E.I.


May 2022

1.2% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.S.


May 2022

1.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.B.


May 2022

7.4% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Que.


May 2022

3.6% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Ont.


May 2022

2.1% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Man.


May 2022

1.1% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Sask.


May 2022

2.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Alta.


May 2022

1.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — B.C.


May 2022

3.6% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Y.T.


May 2022

3.9% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — N.W.T.


May 2022

2.7% increase

(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings — Nvt.


May 2022

2.5% increase

(12-month change)

The number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer—measured by the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) as payroll employment—decreased by 26,100 (-0.1%) in May, the first decline since May 2021. Ontario (-30,000; -0.4%) and Manitoba (-2,500; -0.4%) recorded the largest payroll employment losses, while British Columbia (+7,000; +0.3%) was the lone province to record an increase.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Payroll employment decreases for the first time since May 2021
Payroll employment decreases for the first time since May 2021

Payroll employment decreases in both the goods- and services-producing sectors in May

Payroll employment in the goods-producing sector decreased by 20,600 (-0.7%) in May, led by losses in construction (-17,500; -1.5%).

In the services-producing sector, the number of payroll employees decreased by 14,200 (-0.1%). Losses were spread across several sectors, including educational services (-12,100; -0.9%), health care and social assistance (-10,300; -0.5%) and retail trade (-8,000; -0.4%). In contrast, payroll employment increased in professional, scientific and technical services (+10,900; +0.9%), accommodation and food services (+9,200; +0.7%) and real estate and rental and leasing (+1,600, +0.6%).

Payroll employment in construction decreases in May

In construction, payroll employment decreased by 17,500 (-1.5%) in May, marking the first monthly decline since July 2021. Losses were spread across nearly all industries within the sector, with foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors (-6,900; -5.1%) recording the largest decrease, followed by other specialty trade contractors (-4,700; -3.7%) and building finishing contractors (-2,700; -2.5%).

Ontario (-12,000; -3.0%) accounted for more than two-thirds of the monthly payroll employment decrease in construction in May, likely due, in part, to strikes which resulted in numerous delays in construction projects across the province.

Payroll employment in construction also fell in British Columbia (-2,100; -1.2%) in May, where approximately 300 Lower Mainland concrete workers were on strike throughout the month. Alberta (-1,900; -1.0%) accounted for the majority of the remaining decrease, with New Brunswick (+200; +1.1%) being the only province to record an increase.

Payroll employment in retail trade decreases for the second consecutive month

Payroll employment in retail trade decreased by 8,000 (-0.4%) in May. While this was the second consecutive monthly decrease, employment in the sector was up by 110,500 (+5.8%) compared with one year earlier.

Ontario (-9,400; -1.3%) accounted for nearly all of the payroll employment decrease in retail trade in May, followed by Alberta (-900; -0.4%). Quebec (+1,500; +0.3%), British Columbia (+800; +0.3%), Saskatchewan (+700; +1.1%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+200; +0.5%) were the four provinces in which payroll employment in the sector increased in May.

Of the 12 sub-sectors within retail trade, 9 recorded payroll employment decreases in May. In the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector, employment dropped by 2,300 (-1.1%), including a decline of 1,300 (-0.9%) in automobile dealers. This coincided with a 31.9% decrease in motor vehicle sales in May.

Payroll employment in professional, scientific and technical services continues to rise in May

Payroll employment in professional, scientific and technical services continued its steady increase in May (+10,900; +0.9%), bringing the total gains to 255,900 (+28.4%) since June 2020. Monthly payroll employment increases in the sector were observed in nine provinces, led by Ontario (+4,100; +0.8%), British Columbia (+2,000; +1.1%), Quebec (+1,700; +0.7%) and Alberta (+1,400; +1.1%). Meanwhile, there was little change in Prince Edward Island.

Payroll employment increased in seven of the nine industries within the sector in May, led by computer systems design and related services (+3,800; +1.1%) and accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services (+2,300; +1.7%). All industries within the sector recorded year-over-year payroll employment increases in May, with computer systems design and related services (+59,700; +20.0%) and architectural, engineering and related services (+17,800; +8.6%) recording the largest year-over-year increases.

Average weekly earnings continue to increase on a year-over-year basis

While the Consumer Price Index increased by 7.7% in May, average weekly earnings were up 2.5% on a year-over-year basis, a lower rate of growth than in April (+3.2%) and March (+4.2%). In general, changes in the earnings growth can be the result of a number of factors, including changes in wages and changes in the composition of employment and average hours worked each week.

In May, nine provinces reported year-over-year increases in average weekly earnings, led by New Brunswick (+7.4% to $1,072) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+5.9% to $1,150).

On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings increased in more than half of all sectors in May, led by retail trade (+9.3% to $703) and professional, scientific and technical services (+8.1% to $1,659). In contrast, average weekly earnings were down on a year-over-year basis in May in arts, entertainment and recreation (-9.7% to $710), and information and cultural industries (-6.6% to $1,512).

Average weekly hours worked unchanged

Average weekly hours worked were unchanged in May compared with the previous month, remaining 1.5% above their pre-COVID level. Wholesale trade (+1.1%) was the lone sector to report a monthly increase.

Just over one million vacant jobs for the second consecutive month in May

Across all sectors, employers in Canada were actively seeking to fill just over one million (1,005,700) vacant positions at the beginning of May, little changed from the record high of the previous month, and up 42.5% (+300,100) from May 2021 (not seasonally adjusted). New data developed by Statistics Canada to remove seasonal variations indicate that job vacancies increased steadily until December 2021 before stabilizing somewhat in recent months.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Job vacancies remain elevated
Job vacancies remain elevated

The job vacancy rate, which measures the number of vacant positions as a proportion of all positions (vacant and filled), remained at 5.8% for a second consecutive month in May, but was up 4.4% from one year earlier (not seasonally adjusted). A low unemployment rate of 5.1% (Labour Force Survey, not seasonally adjusted) combined with the high number of vacancies meant that the unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio was 1.1 in May, down from 2.4 one year earlier. A lower unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio indicates a tighter labour market and possible labour shortages.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Job vacancy rate remains elevated while unemployment rate continues to fall
Job vacancy rate remains elevated while unemployment rate continues to fall

Total labour demand (the sum of filled and vacant positions) reached a record high of nearly 17.5 million in May, up 8.5% on a year-over-year basis.

Job vacancies increase in health care and social assistance

The number of job vacancies in health care and social assistance increased 14.5% to 143,400 in May, largely offsetting an April decline. The job vacancy rate was 6.1% in May, up from 5.4% in April. Compared with May 2021, vacancies were up 20.0% (+23,900) while payroll employment was up 3.8% (SEPH, seasonally adjusted).

Across several sectors, job vacancies hold steady

In accommodation and food services, employers were actively seeking to fill 161,100 vacant positions in May, little changed from the previous month. The job vacancy rate was 11.9%, the highest of any sector for the 13th consecutive month. The high level of job vacancies in this sector reflects the difficulties faced by employers seeking to attract and retain workers. The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions indicated that nearly one-quarter (24.6%) of businesses in the sector expected to have more vacancies over the next three months, nearly three times higher than the national average.

Job vacancies in retail trade (99,200), manufacturing (86,800), construction (84,600) and transportation and warehousing (51,100) were also little changed in May.

Record high job vacancies in Nova Scotia and Manitoba in May

Job vacancies reached record highs in Nova Scotia (+22.1% to 24,600), and Manitoba (+15.3% to 32,200) in May. In both provinces, the monthly increase in job vacancies was led by the accommodation and food services sector (+1,600 in Nova Scotia; +2,000 in Manitoba).

The ratio of unemployed people to job vacancies varied across provinces in May, with Quebec (0.7) and British Columbia (0.8) having ratios of less than one unemployed person per vacancy. Newfoundland and Labrador (3.0) continued to have a higher unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio than all other provinces.

Next release

June data for the SEPH and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) will be released on August 25, 2022. Second quarter of 2022 (April to June) JVWS results, which will also provide insights into job vacancies by subsector, vacancies by occupation and offered wages, will be released on September 20, 2022.

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 Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping 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 month-to-month 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. New experimental data adjusted for seasonality are derived from ongoing work to develop seasonally adjusted JVWS time series. Further information on this ongoing work is available on request.

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.

LFS data used in this Daily release to calculate the unemployment-to-job vacancy ratios are not adjusted for seasonality (unless otherwise indicated).

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 August 15, 2022.

Next release

Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies for June 2022 will be released on August 25, 2022.


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" (14-20-0001) 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 (

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