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Economic Insights

Full-time Employment, 1976 to 2014

Full-time Employment, 1976 to 2014

by René Morissette, Feng Hou, and Grant Schellenberg
Social Analysis and Modelling Division

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This Economic Insights article addresses three questions: (1) How has the full-time employment rate―the percentage of the population employed full time―evolved since the mid-1970s overall? (2) How has the full-time employment rate changed across age groups, education levels, sex, and regions? (3) To what extent have movements in full-time employment rates been driven by changes in the socio-demographic characteristics of Canadians and by changes in labour market participation rates, unemployment rates, and part-time employment rates? The study combines data from the Labour Force Survey, the Census of Population, the Survey of Work History of 1981, and the National Household Survey of 2011 to examine these issues. Attention is restricted to individuals who are aged 17 to 64 and who are not full-time students.Note 1

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Introduction

Full-time employment is an important labour market indicator from the perspective of both labour supply and demand. On the supply side, full-time jobs are the main channel through which working-age Canadians generate income and are a key determinant of financial well-being. Full-time employment also reveals information about the success of some groups in the labour market. For groups who have a strong attachment to the labour market, the proportion employed full time, along with the unemployment rate, is an important dimension along which success can be gauged. On the demand side, the creation of full-time jobs is one indicator of economic performance, with commentators often drawing attention to the share of employment growth accounted for by full-time jobs.

The full-time employment rate is defined as the share of the total population aged 17 to 64 employed at least 30 hours per week in their main job (i.e., the job involving the greatest numbers of weekly hours).Note 2 It may have changed over the last few decades for various reasons. For example, employers’ propensity to offer full-time jobs may have increased or decreased in response to changing economic conditions and the competitive environments in which they operate. Evolving preferences and attitudes, such as the desire to balance work and family, may have increased preferences for part-time employment, while evolving transitions over the life course, such as school-to-work transitions or retirement, may have affected full-time employment rates within age groups.

The trends

In aggregate, the percentage of people employed full time has increased slightly since the mid-1970s. Of all individuals aged 17 to 64 who were not attending school full time, 66% were employed full time as employees or self-employed workers in 2014, up from 62% in 1976 (Table 1).Note 3 The full-time employment rate reached a high of 68% in 2007, prior to the last recession, following a secular increase in the percentage of women holding full-time jobs (Chart 1).

Table 1
Percentage of population employed full time in their main job, by sex,
1976 to 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of population employed full time in their main job Percentage of population aged 17 to 64 employed full time as, Percentage of population aged 25 to 54 employed full time as, Employees and Employees or self-employed, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Percentage of population aged 17 to 64 employed full time as Percentage of population aged 25 to 54 employed full time as
Employees Employees or self-employed Employees Employees or self-employed
percent
Both sexes  
1976 55.1 62.1 55.7 64.0
1981 56.3 63.6 57.7 66.6
1989 56.8 65.4 60.6 70.4
1992 52.3 61.0 57.0 66.8
1995 52.6 61.7 57.7 67.9
1997 52.2 62.1 57.2 68.3
2007 57.6 67.6 63.3 74.3
2014 56.8 65.8 63.4 73.1
Men  
1976 72.8 84.4 76.2 89.8
1981 71.0 82.9 74.2 88.5
1989 67.1 80.2 71.4 86.2
1992 59.9 73.0 65.2 79.8
1995 60.6 74.0 66.1 80.9
1997 60.1 74.6 65.3 81.3
2007 62.8 76.9 68.4 83.8
2014 61.6 74.2 68.4 82.0
Women  
1976 37.7 40.2 35.2 38.0
1981 41.7 44.4 41.0 44.5
1989 46.6 50.6 49.7 54.6
1992 44.7 49.0 48.9 53.8
1997 44.2 49.6 49.2 55.4
2007 52.4 58.2 58.2 64.7
2014 52.0 57.4 58.4 64.2

Indeed, the overall increase observed since the mid-1970s masks divergent trends among men and women. The proportion of men working full time fell by 10 percentage points from 1976 to 2014. Virtually all this decline occurred between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s, with the rate remaining around 75% since then (Chart 1). In contrast, the full-time employment rate of women increased by 17 percentage points over the 1976-to-2014 period, rising from 40% to 57%.

Chart 1Percentage of population employed full time in their main job, by sex, 1976 to 2014

Description for chart 1

These aggregate trends also conceal important differences across age groups. In particular, large declines in full-time employment have been observed among youth (again excluding full-time students). From 1976 to 2014, the full-time employment rate declined by about 18 percentage points among men aged 17 to 24 and by about 11 percentage points among women in that age group (Table 2).Note 4 A substantial portion of these declines occurred between 2007 and 2014 (Chart 2). A similar pattern was evident among men aged 25 to 29, with the full-time employment rate declining by 10 percentage points from 1976 to 2014. About two-fifths of that decline occurred between 2007 and 2014. The full-time employment rate of women aged 25 to 29 also declined in recent years, offsetting some of the gains observed earlier.Note 5

Table 2
Percentage of population employed full time in their main job, by age group and sex, 1976 to 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of population employed full time in their main job Percentage of men employed full time as, Percentage of women employed full time as, Employees and Employees or self-employed, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Percentage of men employed full time as Percentage of women employed full time as
Employees Employees or self-employed Employees Employees or self-employed
percent
Population aged 17 to 24  
1976 73.0 76.8 57.2 58.7
1997 58.7 62.3 43.7 45.6
2007 64.8 67.6 53.6 54.9
2014 56.8 59.1 47.1 48.0
1976 to 2014 -16.2 -17.7 -10.2 -10.7
Population aged 25 to 29  
1976 81.2 89.1 42.5 44.3
1997 70.5 79.4 55.6 59.1
2007 74.1 82.8 64.7 68.3
2014 71.2 78.8 61.4 64.9
1976 to 2014 -10.1 -10.2 18.9 20.6
Population aged 30 to 54  
1976 74.7 90.0 33.0 36.1
1997 64.4 81.6 48.1 54.7
2007 67.5 84.0 57.1 64.1
2014 67.9 82.6 57.8 64.1
1976 to 2014 -6.8 -7.5 24.8 28.0
Population aged 55 to 64  
1976 56.8 70.2 20.3 22.8
1997 34.3 49.6 18.9 23.1
2007 40.8 56.9 30.8 36.3
2014 43.1 58.3 34.8 40.8
1976 to 2014 -13.6 -11.9 14.5 18.1

Chart 2  Changes in the percentage of population employed full time in their main job, by sex and age group, 1976 to 2014

Description for chart 2

In addition to declines among youth, the full-time employment rate fell among men in their ‘prime’ working years, with an 8-percentage-point drop observed among men aged 30 to 54. As was the case for younger men, the rate fell substantially between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s (Chart 3). An even larger decline was observed among men aged 55 to 64, at least until the mid-1990s.Note 6 Among women aged 25 or older, substantial increases in the full-time employment rate were observed.

Chart 3 Percentage of men employed full time in their main job, by age group, 1976 to 2014

Description for chart 3

Quite clearly, the shares of youth and of men engaged in full-time employment fell since the mid-1970s. While one might view the declines among younger and older male workers as consequences of changing life course or retirement transitions, it is not obvious what might account for the decline among men aged 30 to 54 (Chart 3).

Decomposing the trends: an accounting exercise

One way to shed light on this issue is to decompose changes in full-time employment rates into three components. In an accounting sense, the percentage of men employed full time may have dropped because proportionately: (a) fewer of them were participating in the labour market, i.e., were employed or actively looking for work; (b) fewer of those participating in the labour market were employed; and/or (c) more of those employed worked part time. In other words, men’s full-time employment rate may have fallen because of a decline in their labour market participation rate, an increase in their unemployment rate, or an increase in the incidence of part-time employment.Note 7

Table 3 quantifies the contribution of these three components. It shows that almost 40% of the decline in the full-time employment rate of men aged 30 to 54 observed from 1976 to 2014 was due to a decline in their labour force participationNote 8 while 41% was due to an increase in the relative importance of part-time employment. The remaining portion (almost 20%) was due, in an accounting sense, to increases in unemployment. Qualitatively similar findings hold for men aged 25 to 29 and 55 to 64.

Table 3
Accounting for changes in full-time employment rates from 1976 to 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Accounting for changes in full-time employment rates from 1976 to 2014 1976 to 2014, 1976 to 1997, 1997 to 2014, Men and Women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  1976 to 2014 1976 to 1997 1997 to 2014
Men Women Men Women Men Women
percent
Individuals aged 17 to 24  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -23.1 -18.2 -18.9 -22.2 -5.1 5.2
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 23.8 -58.1 15.0 -30.0 58.6 81.6
Unemployment 3.7 -3.3 14.0 13.8 -37.4 81.8
Part-time employment 72.5 161.3 71.0 116.2 78.8 -63.4
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Individuals aged 25 to 29  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -11.5 46.5 -10.8 33.4 -0.7 9.8
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 35.7 97.9 22.0 116.0 Note ...: not applicable 42.1
Unemployment 21.7 6.3 40.1 0.5 Note ...: not applicable 24.3
Part-time employment 42.5 -4.2 37.9 -16.5 Note ...: not applicable 33.6
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 Note ...: not applicable 100.0
Individuals aged 30 to 54  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -8.3 77.4 -9.3 51.4 1.1 17.1
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 39.5 85.2 30.7 101.4 Note ...: not applicable 42.6
Unemployment 19.7 1.9 39.2 -3.2 Note ...: not applicable 15.4
Part-time employment 40.8 12.9 30.2 1.8 Note ...: not applicable 42.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 Note ...: not applicable 100.0
Individuals aged 55 to 64  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -17.0 79.3 -29.3 1.6 17.4 76.5
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 45.5 107.0 68.9 Note ...: not applicable 96.0 82.8
Unemployment 15.4 -1.5 10.8 Note ...: not applicable 5.5 4.1
Part-time employment 39.1 -5.5 20.3 Note ...: not applicable -1.5 13.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 Note ...: not applicable 100.0 100.0
Individuals aged 17 to 64  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -12.0 42.9 -11.6 23.5 -0.5 15.7
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 48.5 102.1 41.4 137.3 Note ...: not applicable 51.1
Unemployment 6.7 6.2 22.7 -2.1 Note ...: not applicable 18.2
Part-time employment 44.8 -8.3 35.9 -35.2 Note ...: not applicable 30.7
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 Note ...: not applicable 100.0

In contrast, rising rates of labour force participation were the main factor behind the rise in the full-time employment rates of women aged 25 and over. Increasing labour force participation accounted for 85% of the increase in the full-time employment rate of women aged 30 to 54 observed from 1976 to 2014. The story was much the same among women aged 25 to 29 and 55 to 64.

Among youth, declines in the full-time employment rate were largely the result of the increasing incidence of part-time employment. This component contributed to almost three-quarters of the decline in full-time employment among men aged 17 to 24 and for more than the entire decline observed among young women. For young women, the downward pressure that rising part-time employment exerted on their full-time employment rate more than offset the upward pressure resulting from rising labour force participation.

A separate analysis of the 1976-to-1997 period and the 1997-to-2014 period reveals interesting patterns. As Table 2 and Chart 3 showed, the full-time employment rates of men aged 25 to 29 and of men aged 30 to 54 changed very little from 1997 to 2014. The same was true for men overall.Note 9 Second, changes in the labour market participation of men aged 55 to 64 accounted for about two-thirds of the substantial decline in their full-time employment rate from 1976 to 1997 and almost entirely for the more modest increase in their full-time employment rate afterwards. Declines in the participation rate of men aged 17 to 24 contributed to about half of the relatively small drop in their full-time employment rate from 1997 to 2014.

Considering the entire 1976-to-2014 period, declines in participation rates and in the incidence of full-time employment were the two main factors underlying the drop in men’s full-time employment rates. Rising part-time employment drove the entire decline in the full-time employment rate of women aged 17 to 24. Because rising participation rates accounted for most of the increase in adult women’s full-time employment rates from 1976 to 2014 and has been the subject of much scholarly research,Note 10 the remainder of this article focuses on the declines observed among men and youth.

Compositional changes

The socio-demographic characteristics of men in Canada changed considerably since the mid-1970s. Their average age increased, potentially raising the prevalence of activity limitations and lowering labour market participation.Note 11 However, they also obtained higher levels of education —a trend that might have increased their likelihood of being employed full time. They also became more likely to have an employed spouse, and their distribution across provinces changed as economic activity shifted towards the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. To estimate the extent to which such changes might have affected men’s full-time employment rates, multivariate analyses were conducted.Note 12 The results show that, of the 7.5-percentage-point decline in the full-time employment rate observed among men aged 30 to 54 from 1976 to 2014, 6.1 percentage points remain once changes in socio-demographic characteristics are taken into account. In other words, approximately four-fifths of the decline in the full-time employment rate of men aged 30 to 54 remain unexplained and thus, are due to factors that are not measured in the Labour Force Survey (LFS).Note 13

The deterioration in labour market outcomes of immigrant men is one potential factor that may have exerted downward pressure on the full-time employment rate of men overall. This possibility cannot be assessed using the LFS because immigration status is only available on that survey since 2006. Census data from 1981 to 2006 show that the full-time employment rate of immigrant men aged 30 to 54 fell by 7 to 14 percentage points, depending on their duration of residence in Canada.Note 14 However, the drop in the full-time employment rate was not limited to immigrant men as census data also show that Canadian-born men in that age group experienced a 4-percentage-point decline in their full-time employment rate over that period. This decline is very similar to the 5-percentage-point drop observed among men aged 30 to 54 overall.Note 15 Hence, the deterioration in labour market outcomes observed among immigrant men only partly accounts for the broader decline in full-time employment.

As was the case for men aged 30 to 54, changes in socio-economic characteristics were not key factors underlying the declines in full-time employment rates of youth. All of the drop in the full-time employment rate of men aged 17 to 24 (again excluding full-time students) remains when socio-demographic characteristics are taken into account. This is also the case among women in that age group. Among men aged 25 to 29, changes in socio-demographic characteristics account for about 2 percentage points of the 10.2-percentage-point decline in the full-time employment rate—or about 20%. In sum, compositional effects were not the main drivers behind the decline in the full-time employment rates of men under 55.

Labour force participation

Whether one considers men aged 17 to 24, 25 to 29, or 30 to 54, at least two-thirds―and sometimes almost all―of the decline in labour force participation observed from 1976 to 2014 remains after controlling for the aforementioned socio-economic characteristics (excluding the self-employment indicator).Note 16 This suggests that other factors played an important role.

Changes in the wage structure are potentially one of these factors. From the early 1980s to 2014, real wages grew at a different pace across age groups, education levels, and regions. For instance, men aged 17 to 24 with no university degree, living in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador and employed full time earned very similar real median hourly wages in 1981 and 2014. In contrast, their counterparts living in other provinces saw their real median hourly wages drop by 12% during that period. Since lower wages makes labour market participation relatively less attractive, one would expect groups of men who experienced the sharpest declines in median wages during the 1981-to-2014 period to display the largest decrease in participation.

This is what happened. Grouping the data by age, education level, and region shows that changes in men’s participation rates were positively correlated with changes in their real median wages during that period (Chart 4). Specifically, a 10% decline in real median hourly wages was associated with a 1-percentage-point decline in labour market participation.Note 17 While a thorough assessment of the degree to which changes in the wage structure reduced men’s participation requires formal econometric analyses, the evidence shown in Chart 4 suggests that such changes contributed to reducing the participation rate of some men aged under 55.

Chart 4 Changes in real median hourly wages in full-time jobs and changes in labour force participation rates from 1981 to 2014, by age group, education, and region — Men aged 17 to 54

Description for chart 4

Preferences for part-time work

Changes in work-hour preferences, for instance the increased demand for part-time employment, are another potential explanation for the decline in full-time employment rates, particularly among youth, men aged 25 to 29 and men aged 30 to 54. Analyses of whether or not this is the case must take account of the fact that the questions used to define involuntary part-time work changed with the re-design of the LFS in 1997. As a result, comparable concepts of involuntary part-time work are available within two periods: 1976 to 1995 and 1997 to 2014.Note 18 The examination of these two periods suggests that both an increase in involuntary part-time employment and growing preferences for part-time work played a role.

The first point to note is that most of the growth―between 71% and 84%―in the incidence of part-time employment observed since the mid-1970s took place during the 1976-to-1995 period.Note 19 During that period, growing involuntary part-time work was a dominant factor, generally accounting for at least three-quarters of the growth in the incidence of part-time employment among youth and men aged 25 to 54. For instance, of the 13-percentage-point increase in part-time employment experienced by employed men aged 17 to 24 from 1976 to 1995, 10 percentage points―or over 75% of the increase―were due to higher involuntary part-time employment (Table 4). The corresponding numbers for employed women aged 17 to 24 are 20 percentage points and 15 percentage points, respectively. The important role played by involuntary part-time employment during that period is consistent with the fact that the Canadian labour market was fairly weak several years after the 1990-1992 recession.Note 20

The story was different from 1997 to 2014. Among men under 55 and women aged 17 to 24, the entire growth in part-time employment during that period resulted from voluntary part-time work. However, part-time employment grew relatively little during that period.

Table 4
Sources of increase in part-time employment among employed workers, selected age groups
Table summary
This table displays the results of Sources of increase in part-time employment among employed workers. The information is grouped by Increase in part-time employment (appearing as row headers), Men aged, Women aged, 17 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 54 and 55 to 64, calculated using percentage points units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Increase in part-time employment Men aged Women aged
17 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 54 55 to 64 17 to 24
percentage points
From 1976 to 1995  
Involuntary part-time employment 10.0 3.6 1.9 2.4 15.3
Voluntary part-time employment 3.2 0.7 0.7 3.5 4.2
Total 13.2 4.3 2.6 5.9 19.5
From 1997 to 2014  
Involuntary part-time employment -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.4 -2.1
Voluntary part-time employment 3.9 0.8 0.7 -0.2 4.2
Total 3.4 0.8 0.6 0.2 2.1

Regional differences

The hypothesis that changes in employment preferences have driven the decline in full-time employment among men and youth is also belied by the regional dimension of these trends. In the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, the full-time employment rate of men aged 30 to 54 declined by 3.0 percentage points between 1976 and 2014 compared with a decline of 8.4 percentage points in other provinces (Table 5). Similarly, among men aged 25 to 29, the rate declined by 4.3 percentage points in oil-producing provinces compared with 11.7 percentage points elsewhere. Among women aged 17 to 24, the full-time employment rate fell marginally in oil-producing provinces but declined by 12.6 percentage points elsewhere. Many of these regional differences hold when the data are further disaggregated by education level (Table 6). It appears unlikely that employment preferences towards part-time work changed so dramatically along these regional lines. Instead, differences in labour demand growth across provinces likely drove much of the changes in the full-time employment rates of these groups.Note 21 Both in oil-producing provinces and in other provinces, declines in labour force participation rates and increases in the incidence of part-time employment accounted for at least 90% of the overall decline in men’s full-time employment rates (Table 7).

Table 5
Percentage of population employed full time in their main job (as employees or self-employed), by age group, sex and region, 1976 to 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of population employed full time in their main job (as employees or self-employed) Men aged, Women aged, 17 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 54 and 55 to 64, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Men aged Women aged
17 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 54 55 to 64 17 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 54 55 to 64
percent
Oil-producing provinces  
1976 81.4 89.9 90.5 71.1 58.3 39.7 34.6 23.7
2007 77.8 88.6 88.4 65.2 63.1 66.2 64.1 42.0
2014 72.5 85.6 87.5 65.9 56.6 65.8 62.6 44.5
1976 to 2014 -8.9 -4.3 -3.0 -5.3 -1.6 26.1 28.0 20.9
Other provinces  
1976 75.9 88.9 90.0 70.0 58.7 45.1 36.4 22.6
2007 65.2 81.6 83.2 55.5 53.1 68.7 64.1 35.4
2014 56.2 77.2 81.5 56.9 46.1 64.7 64.4 40.2
1976 to 2014 -19.8 -11.7 -8.4 -13.1 -12.6 19.7 28.0 17.6
Table 6
Percentage of population employed full time in their main job (as employees or self-employed), by age group, sex, education and region, 1976 to 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of population employed full time in their main job (as employees or self-employed) Men aged, Women aged, 17 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 54 and 55 to 64, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Men aged Women aged
17 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 54 55 to 64 17 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 54 55 to 64
percent
Individuals with no university degree  
Oil-producing provinces  
1976 80.8 88.6 89.6 70.4 57.3 36.4 33.5 22.7
2007 77.4 87.7 87.4 64.4 61.8 61.5 62.6 41.4
2014 72.3 84.8 86.3 65.7 54.9 59.3 60.3 44.5
1976 to 2014 -8.6 -3.8 -3.4 -4.7 -2.4 22.8 26.7 21.8
Other provinces  
1976 75.6 88.4 89.2 69.0 58.0 42.4 35.5 22.0
2007 64.6 80.3 81.4 53.9 51.5 64.5 61.4 33.5
2014 55.2 75.7 79.8 55.4 44.0 59.3 60.9 38.8
1976 to 2014 -20.4 -12.7 -9.4 -13.5 -13.9 16.9 25.4 16.7
All provinces  
1976 76.4 88.4 89.3 69.2 57.9 41.6 35.3 22.1
2007 67.0 81.6 82.4 55.4 53.5 64.0 61.6 34.5
2014 58.3 77.5 80.9 57.1 46.0 59.3 60.8 39.6
1976 to 2014 -18.1 -10.9 -8.3 -12.1 -11.9 17.7 25.6 17.5
Individuals with a university degree  
Oil-producing provinces  
1976 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published 97.2 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published
2007 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published 92.0 68.4 Note F: too unreliable to be published 78.5 69.2 45.1
2014 Note F: too unreliable to be published 88.2 91.4 66.5 Note F: too unreliable to be published 77.8 68.0 44.9
1976 to 2014 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published -5.8 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published
Other provinces  
1976 84.7 91.5 95.2 82.7 76.6 66.6 50.6 39.6
2007 75.5 86.1 88.6 60.6 65.7 77.5 71.6 44.1
2014 68.4 81.3 86.0 61.6 59.1 74.1 71.6 45.5
1976 to 2014 -16.3 -10.2 -9.2 -21.1 -17.5 7.5 21.0 6.0
All provinces  
1976 86.1 92.2 95.5 82.9 76.9 66.1 50.5 40.8
2007 76.9 87.0 89.0 61.5 67.3 77.7 71.3 44.2
2014 69.5 82.5 86.8 62.3 60.7 74.8 71.1 45.4
1976 to 2014 -16.6 -9.6 -8.6 -20.6 -16.2 8.7 20.5 4.6
Table 7
Accounting for changes in full-time employment rates from 1976 to 2014,
by sex and region
Table summary
This table displays the results of Accounting for changes in full-time employment rates from 1976 to 2014 Men, Women, Other provinces and Oil-producing provinces, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Men Women
Other provinces Oil-producing provinces Other provinces Oil-producing provinces
percent
Individuals aged 17 to 24  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -26.0 -11.0 -21.5 -2.8
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 23.2 25.0 -47.4 Note ...: not applicable
Unemployment 5.2 -6.7 -3.0 Note ...: not applicable
Part-time employment 71.6 81.6 150.4 Note ...: not applicable
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 Note ...: not applicable
Individuals aged 25 to 29  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -13.2 -4.8 43.7 65.8
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 35.3 30.5 102.2 82.5
Unemployment 22.6 22.8 6.5 3.3
Part-time employment 42.1 46.6 -8.7 14.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Individuals aged 30 to 54  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -9.4 -3.3 77.1 80.9
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 40.3 22.3 86.1 78.6
Unemployment 19.6 30.2 2.4 -1.2
Part-time employment 40.0 47.5 11.5 22.5
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Individuals aged 55 to 64  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -18.8 -7.4 77.6 88.2
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 47.4 18.5 108.3 99.9
Unemployment 13.8 39.7 -1.5 -1.9
Part-time employment 38.8 41.8 -6.8 1.9
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Individuals aged 17 to 64  
Percentage change in full-time employment rate -13.6 -5.1 41.8 49.2
Proportion due to changes in:  
Participation 48.6 40.4 103.9 92.9
Unemployment 7.5 5.2 6.9 1.7
Part-time employment 43.9 54.4 -10.8 5.4
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Summary

Although the percentage of Canadians employed full time has risen modestly over the last four decades, this change masks diverging trends across sexes, age groups, and regions. Women aged 25 and over have massively increased their presence in the ranks of the Canadian workforce employed full time. In contrast, men of all ages, especially those under 25 in the non-oil-producing provinces, have experienced a decline in their full-time employment rates. Women under 25 living in these provinces were also employed full time in smaller proportions in 2014 than their counterparts were in 1976.

The evidence gathered in this article does not support the conjecture that the decline in the full-time employment rates of men and of youth resulted simply from growing preferences for part-time employment. Instead, it shows that, for these groups, much of the increase in the incidence of part-time employment was generally involuntary, i.e., reflected the willingness to work full time and the inability to find full-time employment. The study also showed that the decline in men’s full-time employment rates cannot be explained solely by the deterioration in employment opportunities of immigrant men.

While the increase in the full-time employment rates of women aged 25 and over was driven almost entirely by the growing participation rates of these women, the decline in men’s rates of full-time employment came from numerous sources. Rising part-time employment as well as―for men aged 25 and over―increases in inactivity contributed significantly to the drop in the proportion of men employed full time. Increases in unemployment generally did not play a primary role, although they did account for some of the changes in full-time employment rates. In fact, some groups―for example, men and women aged 17 to 24―had substantially lower full-time employment rates in 2014 than in 1976 even though their unemployment rates during these two years were fairly similar. This fact is an important reminder that aggregate measures sometimes do not provide a complete picture and that rigorous assessments of the degree of success of people in the Canadian labour market require considering jointly numerous labour market indicators.

References

Bernard, A. 2013. Unemployment Dynamics Among Canada’s Youth. Economic Insights, no. 24. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-626-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Galarneau, D., R. Morissette, and J. Usalcas. 2013. “What has changed for young people in Canada?” Insights on Canadian Society. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-006-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Goldin, C. 2006. “The quiet revolution that transformed women’s employment, education, and family.” American Economic Review 96 (2): 1–21.

Morissette, R., P.C.W. Chan, and Y. Lu. 2015. “Wages, youth employment and school enrollment: Recent evidence from increases in world oil prices.” Journal of Human Resources 50 (1): 222–253.

Schirle, T. 2008. “Why have the labor force participation rates of older men increased since the mid�1990s?” Journal of Labor Economics 26 (4): 549–594.

Statistics Canada. 2010. Guide to the Labour Force Survey 2010. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 71-543-G. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Notes

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