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Labour Force Information

Not for release before 7 A.M. E.D.T.Friday, September 5, 2008

August 10 to 16, 2008


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Analysis — August 2008

Following a decline in July, employment edged up by 15,000 in August. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.1%. Since the start of the year, employment has increased by 87,000 (+0.5%), a much smaller increase compared to the 221,000 (+1.3%) of the first eight months of 2007.

Employment gains in August were all in full-time work. So far in 2008, increases have been a mix of both full and part-time employment compared to mostly full-time growth during the same period of 2007.

In August, there were employment gains in Saskatchewan and Ontario, partially offset by losses in Nova Scotia and Manitoba. Employment was virtually unchanged in the other provinces. For the first eight months of 2008, employment gains have been in Ontario and the western provinces.

In August, employment increased in educational services; construction; utilities; and accommodation and food services. These gains were partially offset by decreases in health care and social assistance; agriculture and public administration.

There was a slight increase in manufacturing employment in August. So far this year, this industry has declined by 14,000 (-0.7%), a smaller decrease compared to the same period in 2007 (-76,000 or -3.6%).

August’s employment gains were primarily among private sector employees (+41,000), while there were fewer employees in the public sector (-24,000). Since the beginning of 2008, employment growth has been primarily among employees in the private sector, in contrast to strength in the public sector and in self-employment over the same period of 2007.

Most of the employment increases in August were among men and women aged 25 to 54 years, countered by declines among older women. In the first eight months of 2008, employment growth was stronger for older workers than core-aged workers and youth.

The year-over-year hourly wage growth for August was 3.8%, lower than the 4.9% increase observed at the start of 2008. August’s average hourly wage growth, however, was slightly above the most recent increase of 3.4% in the Consumer Price Index.

Construction leading the way so far in 2008

Employment in construction was up by 19,000 in August, continuing the strength seen over the past few years. August’s gains bring employment in this industry up 86,000 (+7.4%) over the first eight months of 2008, making it the fastest growing industry. Most of the increases have been in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. According to the most recent Building Permits Survey, the value of building permits has increased in 2008, with all of the growth in non-residential construction.

Accommodation and food services added 16,000 workers in August. This industry is up by 60,000 (+5.7%) so far this year, the second fastest growing industry in 2008, with most of the increases in food services and drinking places. Ontario and the western provinces had the most notable increases in this industry so far this year.

Education employment increased by 30,000 in August, following a decline of similar magnitude the previous month. This leaves employment in this industry up 1.8% from 12 months ago.

Employment declined by 22,000 in health care and social assistance in August, mostly in Ontario and Alberta. Despite this decline, employment remains at a level similar to that of the start of 2008.

Agriculture employment was down 18,000 in August, primarily in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Since the most recent peak of July 2005, employment in this industry has declined by 52,000 (-14.1%).

Employment gains in Saskatchewan and Ontario

In August, employment in Saskatchewan increased by 6,000. Employment gains so far this year have mainly been in mining, oil and gas; construction; and health care and social assistance.

Following two months of declines, Ontario’s employment level was up 14,000 in August, as large full-time gains were partially offset by part-time losses. The unemployment rate edged down to 6.3% in August. So far in 2008, employment in Ontario has increased by 0.8%, all in part time. Increases in construction and several service industries were dampened by declines in information, culture and recreation; manufacturing and trade over the year.

While Quebec’s employment was little changed in August, the unemployment rate increased to 7.7%, a result of more people entering the labour force in search of work. So far this year, employment is down 0.6%, with declines in agriculture and several services industries.

There were employment declines in Nova Scotia and Manitoba in August, each with losses of 4,000. Manitoba’s employment is up 1.2% so far this year while the employment level in Nova Scotia remains the same as in December 2007.

Student labour market similar to last summer

The 2008 summer job market for students was among the best since the early 1990s. The average employment rate for students this summer was 54.6% (from May to August), similar to that of the summer of 2007. At the same time, the average unemployment rate was 13.6%; similar to the previous summer.

Note to readers

From May to August, the Labour Force Survey collects labour market information about young people aged 15 to 24 who were attending school full time in March and intend to return to school in the fall. The published estimates are not seasonally adjusted, therefore, comparisons can only be made on a year-over-year basis.

Please note that Table 1 in this publication has been extended to include labour force characteristics for men and women aged 25 to 54 years and 55 years and over at the Canada level.

The Labour Force Survey estimates are based on a sample, and are therefore subject to sampling variability. Estimates for smaller geographic areas or industries will have more variability. For an explanation of sampling variability of estimates, and how to use standard errors to assess this variability, consult the Data Quality section in this publication.

The 2007 Labour Force Historical Review on CD-ROM (71F0004XCB, $209) is now available.

Chart 1 Employment and unemployment indicators, Canada, seasonally adjusted
Chart 2 Employment and unemployment indicators, Canada, seasonally adjusted
Chart 3 Index of employment by industry, Canada, seasonally adjusted, January, 2005=100
Chart 4 Index of employment by industry, Canada, seasonally adjusted, January 2005=100
Chart 5 Index of employment by industry, Canada, seasonally adjusted, January 2005=100
Chart 6 Index of employment by province, seasonally adjusted, January 2005=100
Chart 7 Index of employment by province, seasonally adjusted, January 2005=100