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Analysis — October 2009

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Following two months of moderate growth, employment decreased by 43,000 in October, all in part time. This drop pushed the unemployment rate up 0.2 percentage points to 8.6%.

Compared to the peak of October 2008, employment is down 400,000 (-2.3%), with the bulk of the decline (-357,000) occurring during the first five months.

Part-time work dropped by 60,000 in October, the second consecutive month of large declines. At the same time, full-time employment increased slightly, adding to the large full-time gain from the previous month . Over the past 12 months, however, full-time employment has fallen at a faster rate (-2.7%) than part time (-0.7%).

Most of October’s employment decline came from retail and wholesale trade, ‘other services’, and natural resources. These losses were partially offset by gains in transportation and warehousing.

Since October 2008, employment has fallen in most industries, with the steepest declines in manufacturing (-11.0%), natural resources (-11.0%), construction (-5.8%) and transportation and warehousing (-5.8%). At the same time, there were increases in information, culture and recreation (+4.8%) as well as in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (+4.4%).

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador experienced notable employment losses in October. In all other provinces, employment was little changed. Since October 2008, Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador were the only provinces with faster rates of employment decline than the national average.

There were declines in the number of private and public sector employees in October, partially offset by gains in self-employment.

Adult women aged 25 and over and youths aged 15 to 24 accounted for all of the employment decline in October.

Average hourly wages were up 3.3% in October compared with twelve months earlier.

Employment losses in retail and wholesale trade

In October, employment fell by 31,000 in retail and wholesale trade and by 20,000 in ‘other services’. Employment also declined in natural resources, down 11,000, continuing a downward trend that began in February 2009.

While manufacturing employment was little changed in October, losses since the employment peak in October 2008 have totalled 218,000 (-11.0%).

Construction employment edged up in October, building on gains observed over the previous two months. Despite these recent increases, employment in this industry has fallen 5.8% (-73,000) from 12 months earlier.

Transportation and warehousing, was the only industry to experience a notable employment gain in October (+22,000). Overall, employment in this sector is down 51,000 (-5.8%) since October 2008.

Decline among private and public sector employees

Declines in the number of private (-45,000) and public (-26,000) sector employees in October were partially offset by gains in self-employment (+28,000).

Since October 2008, the number of employees in the private sector has fallen by 4.1%, a faster rate of decline than in the public sector (-1.6%). Self-employment, meanwhile, has increased by 3.9%.

Largest losses in Alberta and British Columbia

Employment in Alberta decreased by 15,000 in October, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.4 percentage points to 7.5%. Since October 2008, Alberta’s employment has fallen by 3.3% (-68,000), the steepest rate of decline among all provinces.

In October, British Columbia’s employment declined by 13,000. This employment loss, coupled with a slight increase in the labour force, pushed the unemployment rate up 0.9 percentage points to 8.3%. Over the past 12 months, employment in the province was down by 2.2% (-52,000).

Employment fell by 4,000 (-1.8%) in Newfoundland and Labrador in October, all in full time, and the unemployment rate rose to 17.0%. Since October 2008, employment in the province has declined by 2.6% (-5,700).

Manitoba’s employment also fell in October (-3,400) bringing the unemployment rate up 0.5 percentage points to 5.8%. Despite this month’s decline, employment remains little changed from October 2008.

Employment in Ontario edged down in October while the unemployment rate was little changed. Since the employment peak twelve months earlier, losses have totalled 206,000 (-3.1%), with most of the decline occurring between October 2008 and May 2009. Since last October, over half of the province's total employment losses were in manufacturing, well beyond that industry’s 13% share of total employment.

In Quebec, although employment was little changed in October, the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 8.5% as the labour force contracted. Employment in the province has fallen by 62,000 (-1.6%) since October 2008, a slower rate of decline than the national average (-2.3%).

Employment losses among adult women and youths

October’s employment decrease was among adult women (-24,000) and youths (-20,000).

Since October 2008, youths have experienced employment declines throughout the whole period, totalling 225,000 (-8.7%). Among adult men, although down 177,000 (-2.3%) since October, employment has stabilized in recent months. For adult women, employment was unchanged compared to a year earlier.

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.