Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin

    Self-contained labour areas: A proposed delineation and classification by degree of rurality

    Self-contained labour areas: A proposed delineation and classification by degree of rurality

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    By Anne Munro, Alessandro Alasia and Ray D. Bollman, Statistics Canada


    • In this study, 349 self-contained labour areas have been delineated, based on commuting flows. A self-contained labour area is a territorial unit where most of the residents with jobs are working in the area and most of the jobs in the area are filled by workers residing in the area.

    • There are between 197 and 229 self-contained labour areas that can be described as "rural self-contained labour areas", depending on the way "rural" is defined.

    • Again, depending on the "rural" definition used, 29% to 39% of rural Canadians reside in a rural self-contained labour area. However, the majority of rural residents reside and work in a labour market with some degree of connection to a larger urban centre.

    • Our study represents an initial delineation. Many census subdivisions were too small to provide reliable estimates of "commuting rates" (or had no commuting flows) and these census subdivisions were not assigned to a self-contained labour area for the purposes of this study. Additional criteria (e.g. road networks, geographic proximity, etc.) could be used to create custom areas.

    • As each self-contained labour area is (largely) self-contained in terms of workers and jobs, these areas may provide a useful delineation for understanding other issues which residents would have in common (such as the need for post-secondary institutions or health and recreational services).

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