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Section 3: Labour market and Income statistics

Labour force statistics

The LFS plays a central role in the national statistical system and is one of STC’s mission critical surveys. It provides official estimates of labour market conditions, which are among the most timely and important measures of the overall performance of the Canadian economy. The key estimates published monthly include the unemployment rates and employment totals at national, provincial and subprovincial levels. The LFS is the largest monthly household survey conducted by STC, and its survey frame, sample and processing systems support a wide and expanding range of other household surveys.

Canada’s labour force increased by 250,200 people (+1.4%) from about 17.3 million in 2005 to about 17.6 million in 2006. This growth rate is 0.5% higher than the increase recorded from 2004 to 2005 (0.9%) but lower than the 2.9% rise experienced from 2001 to 2002. Between 2002 and 2006, about 1 million people joined the labour force in Canada. The increases in the labour force were powered by the increased entry of older people into the labour force. Importantly, the biggest increases in labour force participation were in the older age categories (55 years and over) among women. For example, from 2005 to 2006, females 55 years and over (+7.8%) saw important increases in their numbers entering the labour force. Males 65-69 (+4.2%) also experienced increases in their numbers in 2006 (table 3.4 and chart 3.1). The increase in the number of older workers in the labour force reflects both their increasing share of the population and growing attachment to the labour force.

In 2006, the gender composition of the labour force remained at 53% male and 47% female, with the number of females growing at +2.4% compared to +1.5% growth in the number of males. This increased entry of women in the labour force is a long established pattern which has caused the percentage of men to women in the labour force to change from 62% male versus 38% female 30 years ago to its present proportion.

In 2006, about 16.5 million people were employed, while about another 1.1 million people were unemployed (table 3.1). Continuing with what has become a recent trend, new full-time positions accounted for most of the job growth. Full time employment grew by 2.3% or +303,500 people to reach 13.5 million, while part time employment grew by 11,200 (or +0.4%) to about 3 million people (table 3.1), mainly due to increases in numbers of older workers.


In 2006, job growth outstripped growth in the labour force, pushing joblessness to decline for the third year in a row. The number of unemployed people declined by 5.5 % (64,400 people), from 1.2 million to about 1.1 million people. Correspondingly, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% from the previous year’s 6.8%, the lowest rate in over 30 years. People age 25 years and over experienced the biggest decline -7.0% versus -6.5% recorded by those people age 15-24. Males also experienced an impressive decline of 7.1%, compared to a 6.2% decline in unemployment among females (table 3.1). However, part of the overall decline in unemployment numbers can also be related to an increase in the number of people not in the labour force, which increased by 1.5% (from 8.5 million to 8.6 million people), making it the third year in a row that the number of people not in the labour force has increased (table 3.1).

Participation rates

Although unemployment declined in 2006, the total participation rate for Canada remained unchanged at 67.2%. However, male participation rate dropped slightly by 0.3% from 72.8% to 72.5%, while female participation increased by 0.3% during the same period. Among the provinces, Alberta had the highest participation rates for both males (79.6%) and females (67.0%) while Newfoundland registered the lowest rates for both males (63.2%) and females (55.4%). Saskatchewan recorded by far the biggest increase in female participation rate (+1.4%) while Nova Scotia recorded the biggest drop in male participation (-1.2%) (table 3.3).

Chart 3.1 Growth of labour force, by selected age groups and sex, Canada, 2006
Source(s):  Labour force historical review on CD-ROM, catalogue no. 71F0004XCB (table CD1T01AN). Related CANSIM table 282-0002.


Although the number of self-employed females increased by 10,600 from 2005 to 2006, there was a decline in the total number of people who were self-employed from 2,511,600 in 2005 to 2,498,000 (-0.5%) in 2006. Much of this drop was due to a drop of 24,200 in the number of males who were self employed (table 3.1).

Employment by industry

Overall, in 2006, there were 16.5 million people employed in all industries in Canada, representing a +1.9% (or +314,600 people) increase over the previous year’s figures. Much of this increase emanates from a surge in employment in the services sector by 333,100 people from 12.2 million to 12.5 million (or +2.7%) in 2006 (table 3.2). The strength of the growth in employment in the service sector varied from industry to industry. Business, building and other support services (5.4%) Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Leasing (+5.3) and Educational Services (+4.7%) reported the strongest growth in this sector (table 3.2 and chart 3.2).

Although the goods producing sector as a whole experienced a slight decline in employment numbers, it was another banner year for the resource sector and the construction industry. The highest employment growth rate in the economy was recorded in the Mining, Oil and Gas extraction sector (+7.7%). Construction also registered a +4.9% increase in employment. Although Construction growth was supported by Alberta’s continuing investment boom, strong gains were also posted in British Columbia to support the infrastructure for trade with Asia and the beginning of construction for the 2010 Winter Olympics. 1  However, Manufacturing continued its employment decline for the second year in a row. Employment in this industry declined by 89,700 jobs (-4.1%) from about 2.2 million to about 2.1million jobs. This industry together with Utilities, which also lost 3,300 jobs (-2.6%) were the only industries that lost jobs in the economy (table 3.2 and chart 3.2).

Chart 3.2 Percentage change in employment by selected industries, Canada, 2006
Source(s):  Statistics Canada - Labour Statistics Division, Labour Force Survey and CANSIM table 280-0008.

Employment by occupational category

In 2006, Sales and Service occupations continue to account for the largest share of workers in the Canadian economy, recording a total of about 3.9 million workers, an addition of 58,500 workers (+1.5%) over the 2005 total, but, Social Science, Education, Government Service and Religious occupations registered the strongest growth rate (+4.1%) among all occupations, followed by Management occupations (+3.9%). However, Business, Finance and Administrative occupations registered the biggest net job gain (+90,200) in the economy between 2005 and 2006 (table 3.6).

Occupations unique to Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities continued to decline for the third year in a row (-5.7%) and experienced the most net loss of jobs (-62,000) (table 3.6).

Personal income

Personal income in Canada rose to almost $1.1 trillion in 2006, a $407.5 billion increase over the previous 10 years. Wages, salaries and supplementary labour income account for 67.4% of total personal income, followed by transfers from government (13.1%) and interests, dividends and miscellaneous investment receipts (11.3%). The rest is made up of unincorporated business net income, current transfers from corporations and current transfers from non-residents (table 3.8).

Personal disposable income grew by +6.4% to $842 billion in 2006, an increase of $50.8 billion over 2005. However, growth rates across the country varied, with Newfoundland and Labrador (+23.1%) witnessing the highest growth rate in personal disposable income and Saskatchewan (+3.9%) the lowest in the country (table 3.9).

Ontario continues to account for the biggest share of personal disposable income in Canada ($336 billion or about 40% of total national personal disposable income), followed by Quebec ($178 billion or 21.1%). Among the provinces, together, the Atlantic Provinces had the lowest personal disposable income ranging from Prince Edward Island’s $3 billion to Nova Scotia’s $21.5 billion (table 3.9).

The disposable income per capita nationwide increased by +5.4% (from $24,505 to $25,819). The biggest growth was seen in Newfoundland and Labrador from $20,229 to $25,118 (+24.2%). However, nationally, the Northwest Territories recorded the highest per capita disposable income ($37,410) followed by the Yukon at $35,416. Provincially, Alberta, which posted a +9.2% increase in its personal disposable income per person ($32,506) had the highest per capita disposable income, followed by Ontario ($26,483) and then Quebec ($23,267). The Atlantic provinces recorded the lowest personal disposable income per capita in the country. The lowest per capita disposable income in this region was recorded by Prince Edward Island at $21,578, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick recorded personal disposable income per capita incomes of $23,238 and $22,724 respectively (table 3.10).

Nationwide, Newfoundland and Labrador (+39%) saw the highest increase in its personal disposable income per capita from 2002-2006, followed by Alberta (+29.3%), and Saskatchewan (+21.1%) (table 3.10).

Average weekly earnings by industry

Extensive information on the total number of paid employees, payrolls and hours at detailed industrial, provincial and territorial levels is available from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH). Nationally, Information and Cultural industries posted the biggest growth in average weekly earnings (+5.9%) followed by Management of Companies and Enterprises (+4.5%) and the Forestry, Logging and Support, and Accommodation and Food Services industries both recorded a +4.4% growth rate (table 3.13).

The Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Industry continues to be the highest average weekly paid industry, with an average weekly pay of $1,345.58, while the Accommodation and Food Services industry recorded the lowest average weekly pay of $304.36.

Nationwide, employees in the Mining and Oil and Gas extraction industry in Alberta recorded the highest average weekly earnings in the country ($1,462.72) followed by those in British Columbia ($1,378.31). The lowest paid employees in the Accommodation and Food Services industry were in Prince Edward Island, in 2006, ($266.45) (table 3.13).

Average market income

As the Canadian economy continues to experience strong growth, average after-tax and average market incomes show signs of impressive growth. This is borne out in the latest data available from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID). Average after tax income of families in Canada grew from $63,900 to $64,800 (+1.4%) between 2004 and 2005 (table 3.14).

Average market income also increased from $69,500 to $70,300 (+1.2%). Importantly, for the first time since 2003, unattached individuals made larger gains than families with respect to growth in their average after-tax and average market incomes (table 3.14).

Unlike 2004, when both the average after-tax and average market incomes of unattached individuals declined by -0.4%, in 2005, the average after tax income of unattached individuals increased from $26,500 to $27,000 (+1.9%) and their average market income grew from $26,300 to $27,000 (+2.7%) for this group of people. On the other hand, the average after tax income of families grew by +1.4% (from $63,900 to $64,800) and their average market income grew by +1.2% (from $69,500 to $70,300) (table 3.14).

In 2005, families in Alberta continued to record the highest average after-tax income ($73,200) in Canada. On the other hand, the Atlantic provinces registered the lowest average after tax income for families, ranging from a low of $50,300 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $56,800 in Nova Scotia. Provincially, Nova Scotia witnessed the biggest growth in average after-tax income for families (+5.4%) followed by Saskatchewan (+5.2%) (table 3.15). However, among the provinces, only families in Alberta ($73,200), Ontario ($70,400) and British Columbia ($65,000) recorded average after-tax incomes that were higher than the Canadian (minus the territories) average ($64,800) (table 3.15).