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Analysis — July 2009

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Following little change in June, employment declined by 45,000 in July, with losses in both full and part-time work. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.6%, as fewer people participated in the labour market.

Employment in July fell among young people aged 15 to 24 and women aged 25 to 54. Since the peak in October 2008, employment has dropped 414,000, predominantly among youths (-205,000) and men aged 25 to 54 (-201,000).

While most of July’s employment losses were in Quebec, there were also losses in Saskatchewan, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. Employment was little changed in all other provinces.

The downward trend among private sector employees persisted in July, with large losses for this group partially offset by continued gains in self-employment.

Employment in July fell in accommodation and food services and construction while there were increases in retail and wholesale trade.

Since October, total employment has fallen by 2.4%, all in full-time work, with the vast majority of employment losses in manufacturing; construction; and transportation and warehousing. During the same period, the unemployment rate jumped 2.3 percentage points to 8.6%, the highest rate in eleven years.

Average hourly wages were up 3.4% from July 2008, similar to the year-over-year increases of the previous two months.

Quebec lost ground in July

Following four months without notable declines, Quebec’s employment fell by 37,000 in July, bringing total losses since October to 68,000 or -1.8%. The unemployment rate in July, at 9.0%, was the highest since January 2004.

Employment also fell in Saskatchewan (-5,000) in July, returning employment to the same level as in October 2008. The unemployment rate edged up slightly to 4.7%.

Following a gain the previous month, employment fell in Newfoundland and Labrador (-2,800) in July, pushing the unemployment rate up 1.5 percentage points to 17.1%.

Employment in Ontario edged up in July as continued declines in construction were more than offset by gains in the services sector. In July, the unemployment rate was 9.3%, a 0.3 percentage point decline from the previous month.

Since the start of the labour market downturn last fall, employment has decreased by 2.4% at the national level, with the largest rates of decline in Ontario (-3.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-2.8%), British Columbia (-2.7%) and Alberta (-2.4%).

Continuing losses among private sector employees

Employment among private sector employees fell by 75,000 in July, bringing total losses since October to 436,000.

The number of self-employed increased by 35,000 in July. Since October, self-employment has risen by 75,000, mostly in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; and ‘other services’.

Employment fell by 22,000 in accommodation and food services in July, while retail and wholesale trade was up by 24,000.

After three months of little change, construction employment decreased by 18,000 in July, bringing total losses since October to 120,000 (-9.6%). Employment in manufacturing was little changed in July. Since October, manufacturing employment has dropped by 218,000 or 11.1%.

Difficult summer for youths, particularly students

July’s employment declines were among youths (-38,000) and women aged 25 to 54 (-23,000). Since October, employment has fallen the most for youths (-205,000) and men aged 25 to 54 (-201,000). Over the same period, workers aged 55 and over had employment increases of 90,000.

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.

Employment was down 10.9% (-152,000) for students aged 15 to 24 in July 2009 compared with 12 months earlier, the fastest year-over-year rate of decline since July 1982.

July’s unemployment rate for students climbed to 20.9%, a 7.1 percentage point increase from July 2008. This is the highest July unemployment rate for these students since comparable data became available in 1977.

Note to readers

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.

Changes in average hourly wages are affected by shifts in the composition of the Canadian labour force. For example, a drop in employment in low-wage occupations or industries will contribute to an increase in the national average hourly wage.

The 2008 Labour Force Historical Review on CD-ROM (71F0004XCB, $209) is now available.