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Analysis — August 2009

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Employment increased by 27,000 in August, led by part-time work and among private sector employees. The unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage points to 8.7% as more people participated in the labour market.

Since employment peaked in October 2008, total employment has fallen by 387,000 (-2.3%). The trend in employment, however, has changed recently. Over the last five months, employment has fallen by 31,000, a much smaller decline than the 357,000 observed during the five months following October 2008.

In August, part-time employment rose by 31,000. Since October, full-time work has dropped by 486,000 (-3.5%), partially offset by increases in part time of 99,000 (+3.1%).

Employment among private sector employees increased by 49,000 in August, the first increase in this group since September 2008. Employment among both public sector employees and the self-employed edged down in August.

In August, increases were observed in a number of industries, including retail and wholesale trade, as well as finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Total employment gains were partially offset by losses in business, building and other support services, as well as educational services.

In August, employment edged up in most provinces. Saskatchewan was the only province with a notable decline.

August’s employment increase was concentrated among women aged 25 to 54.

The 2009 summer labour market was one of the most challenging for students aged 15 to 24. Their average unemployment rate reached 19.2% over the summer months, the second highest rate since comparable data became available in 1977.

Average hourly wages were up 3.3% compared to August 2008, the lowest year-over-year growth in more than two years.

More workers in retail and wholesale trade

In August, there were employment increases in a number of industries, the largest in retail and wholesale trade (+21,000) and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (+18,000). Total employment gains were partially offset by losses in business, building and other support services (-33,000), as well as educational services (-17,000).

Employment in the manufacturing sector continued its downward trend in August, while construction rose slightly.

In the five months following the employment peak of October 2008, employment fell in almost all industries, especially manufacturing and construction. In the past five months, however, while manufacturing has continued its decline, employment in construction has stabilized and it has increased in most service industries.

Employment edged up in most provinces in August

Manitoba’s employment increased by 3,400 in August. However, the unemployment rate climbed 0.5 percentage points to 5.7% as more people looked for work.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment rose by 2,900 in August and the unemployment rate fell 1.5 percentage points to 15.6%. Since October, employment in the province has declined by 3,200 (-1.5%).

Employment in Ontario increased slightly for a second consecutive month in August. Despite these gains, employment in Ontario has declined by 207,000 (-3.1%) since last October. The province’s unemployment rate in August was 9.4%, up 0.1 percentage points.

Following a large drop in July, employment in Quebec was little changed in August. The unemployment rate was 9.1%, up 0.1 percentage points. Since last October, employment in the province has decreased by 60,000 (-1.5%).

In Saskatchewan, employment declined for the second consecutive month, down 3,200 in August. The unemployment rate, while up 0.3 percentage points, remained the lowest in Canada at 5.0%.

Employment up among core-aged women

Women aged 25 to 54 were the only demographic group with an employment increase in August (+23,000). Since last October, employment for this group has declined over the whole period, with losses totalling 77,000.

The largest employment decreases since last October, however, were for youths (-210,000) and men aged 25 to 54 (-194,000). While employment for youths has declined throughout the entire ten-month period, all the losses for men occurred during the first five months.

Among workers aged 55 and over, employment rose by 93,000 since last October, particularly in the last five months.

Unemployment rate for students one of the highest in summer 2009

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.

In August, employment was down 128,000 (-9.5%) among students aged 15 to 24 compared to August 2008, the fastest year-over-year rate of decline for a month of August since 1983.

The unemployment rate reached 16.4% for students in August, up 5.0 percentage points compared to the same month last year. This was the highest August unemployment rate for these students since comparable data became available in 1977.

The 2009 summer labour market was one of the most challenging for students. The average unemployment rate for the summer was 19.2%, the second highest rate since comparable data became available in 1977. In addition to a high unemployment rate, the average number of hours worked during the summer by students was the lowest since 1977, at 23.4 hours per week.

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.