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Labour Force Survey, March 2023

Released: 2023-04-06


Employment rose by 35,000 (+0.2%) in March, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0%.

There were more people employed in transportation and warehousing (+41,000; +4.2%); business, building and other support services (+31,000; +4.4%); as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+19,000; +1.3%).

At the same time, employment declined in construction (-19,000; -1.2%); "other services" (which includes personal and repair services) (-11,000; -1.5%); and natural resources (-11,000; -3.2%).

There were fewer women aged 55 to 64 working (-13,000; -0.8%), partially offsetting gains in the previous month. Overall, employment was unchanged among women and rose among men.

The number of employees grew in the private sector (+35,000; +0.3%) in March, while there was little change in public sector employment and in the number of self-employed workers.

Employment increased in Ontario (+21,000; +0.3%), Alberta (+14,000; +0.6%), Manitoba (+3,300; +0.5%) and Prince Edward Island (+1,700; +2.0%). There were fewer people employed in Saskatchewan (-4,300; -0.7%). There was little change in employment in the other provinces.

Total hours worked rose 0.4% in March and were up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis.

Average hourly wages rose 5.3% (+$1.68 to $33.12) on a year-over-year basis in March, compared with 5.4% in February (not seasonally adjusted).

The employment rate of South Asian core-aged (25 to 54 years old) Canadians increased in the 12 months to March.

Employment continues upward trend since the fall of 2022 

Chart 1  Chart 1: Employment increases in March
Employment increases in March

Employment grew by 35,000 (+0.2%) in March, following little change in February and strong growth in January (+150,000) and December (+69,000). Employment has generally trended up since September 2022. Over that period, the number of people employed has increased by 383,000 (+1.9%).

Employment gains in March were concentrated among private sector employees (+35,000; +0.3%). There was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.

Employment up in three industries, led by transportation and warehousing

The number of people working in transportation and warehousing rose by 41,000 (+4.2%) in March, following little change in February, and offsetting a net decline of 41,000 from February 2022 to January 2023.

Following a decline in February 2023, employment in business, building and other support services—which includes activities that support the day-to-day operations of organizations, ranging from waste management to administrative services—was up by 31,000 (+4.4%) in March. It was the first monthly increase for the industry since November 2021. The number of workers in business, building and other support services in March was the highest since February 2020.

There were more people working in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+19,000; +1.3%) in March 2023, continuing an upward trend over the last year. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry grew by 58,000 (+4.3%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Employment gains in three industries
Employment gains in three industries

In the construction industry, employment fell by 19,000 (-1.2%) in March, following little change in February and partly offsetting cumulative increases of 42,000 in December and January.

The number of people working in natural resources was down 11,000 (-3.2%) in March, following eight months of little change. This decline was concentrated in Quebec (-5,000; -11.8%), which accounted for almost half of the monthly national decrease.

Employment in health care and social assistance was little changed in March, following increases in January (+40,000; +1.5%) and February (+15,000; +0.6%). The number of job vacancies in the sector increased to its highest level on record in January.

Employment in professional, scientific and technical services held steady in March for a third consecutive month. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry was up 5.2% (+93,000), largely reflecting strong gains in the spring and fall of 2022.

Employment rate of core-aged women remains near record high

Employment rose by 22,000 (+0.2%) among men in March, while it varied little among women. The employment rate—the percentage of people aged 15 and older who are employed—was unchanged at 62.4% in March, just below the recent high observed in January (62.5%). On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 58.9% for women, while it was little changed at 65.9% for men.

The proportion of core-aged (25 to 54 years old) women employed was 82.0% in March, little changed from the previous month and comparable to the record high of 82.2% observed in January. The employment rate among core-aged women with the youngest child under 6 years old was 76.2% in March, up 1.7 percentage points compared with 12 months earlier (not seasonally adjusted). This increase may reflect increased job opportunities associated with a tight labour market, as well as a range of other factors, such as changes in household financial pressures and access to childcare.

For core-aged men, the employment rate was 87.8% in March, down 0.3 percentage points compared with February and down 0.6 percentage points compared with the recent peak of 88.4% observed in March and April of 2022. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment rose at a slower pace for core-aged men (+89,000; +1.3%) than for core-age women (+172,000; +2.8%).

After reaching a record high in February, the employment rate for women aged 55 to 64 fell 0.5 percentage points to 60.3% in March, as employment among women in this age group dropped by 13,000 (-0.8%). The employment rate among men aged 55 to 64 was unchanged at 70.3%. Employment for both women and men in this age group had generally trended upward since August 2022.

The employment rate among youth aged 15 to 24 was 59.6% in March, little changed from February. Employment for youth has trended up since October 2022, and there were 57,000 (+2.1%) more young people employed in March 2023 than 12 months earlier.

Unemployment rate holds steady for fourth consecutive month

For the fourth consecutive month, the unemployment rate was 5.0% in March, just above the record low of 4.9% observed in June and July of 2022.

Most unemployed people in March 2023 had been unemployed for 13 weeks or less (63.4%). The proportion who had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more—the long-term unemployed—was 16.0%, down from 20.3% a year earlier.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Unemployment rate unchanged in March
Unemployment rate unchanged in March

In March, the unemployment rate fell 0.8 percentage points for male youth to 9.9%, and fell 0.6 percentage points for female youth to 8.5%. Their rates were little changed from 12 months earlier.

The unemployment rates for core-aged women and men have hovered around historical lows in the past 12 months, and were both little changed in March. For core-aged women, the unemployment rate in March (4.2%) was up slightly compared with the record low of 4.0% in January 2023. For core-aged men, the rate in March (4.4%) was 0.5 percentage points above the record low of 3.9% in June 2022.

Year-over-year growth in average hourly wages remains above 5%

On a year-over-year basis, average hourly wages rose 5.3% (+$1.68) to reach $33.12 in March. Wage growth was similar to February (+5.4%), and there was little change between men and women (not seasonally adjusted).

Employment up in four provinces in March

Employment rose in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Prince Edward Island in March, while it declined in Saskatchewan. There was little change in the other provinces. For further information on key province and industry level labour market indicators, see "Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app."

Following little change in February, employment growth resumed in Ontario in March (+21,000; +0.3%), bringing cumulative gains since September 2022 to 172,000 (+2.2%). The unemployment rate held steady at 5.1%. The Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) saw employment increase by 23,000 (+0.6%) in March, and the unemployment rate edged up 0.2 percentage points to 5.8% as more people searched for work.

Employment in Manitoba increased by 3,300 (+0.5%) in March, the second consecutive monthly gain, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.7%. In the Winnipeg CMA, employment rose by 2,400 (+0.5%) and the unemployment rate was 4.6% (three-month moving averages).

In Alberta, employment rose by 14,000 (+0.6%) in March, the third increase in four months, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.7%. In the 12 months to March 2023, employment in the province increased by 95,000 (+4.0%), driven by gains in full-time work. Employment fell in natural resources (-14,000; -9.7%) over the 12 months, but increased in professional, scientific and technical services (+51,000; +24.9%) and in transportation and warehousing (+34,000; +29.3%).

In Prince Edward Island, employment grew by 2.0% (+1,700) in March, the third increase in four months. The unemployment rate for the province was 6.6% and the employment rate was 61.2%.

In Saskatchewan, employment fell by 4,300 (-0.7%) in March, the first notable decline since July 2022. Part-time employment declined, while full-time employment was unchanged in the month. The unemployment rate rose to 4.7% (+0.4 percentage points) in March.

Employment in Quebec was little changed in March, and the unemployment rate was 4.2%, just above the record low of 3.9% reached in January 2023 and November 2022. In the CMA of Montréal, employment held steady in March 2023, and the unemployment rate was 4.8%. The unemployment rate in the CMA of Québec was 1.7% in March and remained the lowest of all CMAs in Canada (three-month moving averages).

Quarterly update for the territories

The employment rate in the Northwest Territories was 70.6% in the first quarter of 2023, little changed from the fourth quarter of 2022. The unemployment rate fell by 2.0 percentage points to 5.1% as fewer people searched for work.

In Yukon, the employment rate was 68.8% in the period from January to March, while the unemployment rate was 2.9%, down 2.0 percentage points compared with the previous quarter.

In Nunavut, employment edged down and the employment rate decreased to 53.7% (-2.3 percentage points) in the first quarter of 2023. The unemployment rate was 12.1% and was little changed from the fourth quarter of 2022.

In the spotlight: employment rate of South Asian core-aged Canadians increases in the 12 months to March

Employment in Canada has trended upward in 2022 and into 2023, while the unemployment rate has hovered near record lows, reflecting a tight labour market. In March, 84.9% of the core-aged Canadian population (aged 25 to 54) was employed, down slightly from the record-high 85.3% reached in January 2023.

Canada's workforce is growing and is also becoming more diverse. According to the latest census data, over one-quarter (26.5%) of those who were employed in May 2021 were members of a racialized group, up from 21.3% five years earlier. In the coming years, racialized groups are projected to account for a growing share of the population and the labour force.

In March 2023, racialized groups comprised 28.6% of the employed population in Canada (not seasonally adjusted, three-month moving averages). The largest groups were South Asian, Chinese and Black Canadians. Taken together, the three groups accounted for 17.0% of Canada's employed population in the month.

From March 2022 to March 2023, the employment rate among core-aged South Asian Canadians rose 2.4 percentage points to reach 84.2%. This primarily reflected an increase in the employment rate of South Asian women, which was up 4.7 percentage points over the period to reach 78.3% in March. The employment rate for South Asian men was 89.5% in March, little changed from 12 months earlier.

The employment rate of core-aged Chinese Canadians was 78.4% in March, little changed from a year prior (78.8%). In March, 75.2% of core-aged Chinese women and 82.3% of core-aged Chinese men were employed.

In March, 79.9% of core-aged Black Canadians were employed, compared with 78.6% a year earlier. Among men, the employment rate rose 2.3 percentage points over the period and reached 85.0% in March 2023. The increase was most notable in Ontario, where the employment rate for core-aged Black men rose 6.3 percentage points to reach 83.7%. Among core-aged Black women, at the Canada level, the employment rate was 75.2% in March, little changed from a year earlier (74.7%).

Chart 4  Chart 4: Employment rates for those aged 25 to 54 up among several racialized groups
Employment rates for those aged 25 to 54 up among several racialized groups

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 Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goals:

  Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for March are for the week of March 12 to 18, 2023.

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).

Face-to-face personal interviewing resumed in November 2022. Telephone interviews continued to be conducted by interviewers working from their homes rather than Statistics Canada's call centres, as they have since March 2020. Close to 47,000 interviews were completed in March and in-depth data quality evaluations conducted each month confirm that the LFS continues to produce an accurate portrait of Canada's labour market.

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.

Information on racialized groups

A new annual data table (14-10-0440-01) presenting labour force characteristics of racialized groups is now available on the Statistics Canada website.

Data on "racialized groups" are derived from the "visible minority" variable. "Visible minority" refers to whether or not a person belongs to one of the visible minority groups defined by the Employment Equity Act. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.

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.

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on May 5, 2023. April 2023 data will reflect labour market conditions during the week of April 9 to 15, 2023.


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, provinces, territories and economic regions.

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; or Media Relations (

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