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Analysis — November 2009

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Employment rose by 79,000 in November, bringing the unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 8.5%. Despite November’s gain, employment remains 321,000 (-1.9%) below the peak of October 2008.

In November, full-time employment increased by 39,000, the third consecutive monthly increase. Part-time employment also rose in November (+40,000), following two months of declines.

November saw an increase in the number of private (+57,000) and public (+54,000) sector employees, while the number of self-employed workers declined (-32,000). In recent months, the number of employees in the public sector, as well as the number of self-employed has trended up, while in the private sector, the trend has been relatively flat.

Most of the gain in overall employment in November was among women aged 25 to 54 (+51,000) and men aged 55 and over (+17,000).

Almost all the employment growth in November was attributable to the strength of the service sector (+73,000), especially educational services. With November’s increase, employment in the service sector is back at its October 2008 level, while employment in the goods sector remains well below (-324,000) where it was at that time.

In November, employment growth was widespread across most provinces with the largest gains in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Compared to a year ago, average hourly wages in November were up 2.3%, the lowest year-over-year growth since March 2007.

Employment growth concentrated in services-producing industries

The service sector showed substantial employment gains (+73,000) in November, with the largest increase in education (+38,000) and small gains in a number of other industries. Employment was little changed in the goods-producing sector in November.

Between October 2008 and March 2009, employment fell in almost all industries, especially in manufacturing and construction. Since March 2009, however, employment has slowed its decline in manufacturing, while it has picked up in construction and in a number of service industries.

Employment gains in Ontario and Quebec

In Ontario, employment rose by 27,000 in November, the largest gain since September 2008. The unemployment rate, at 9.3%, was unchanged in November. While employment in Ontario remains well below its October 2008 level (-179,000 or -2.7%), since May 2009, employment has edged up slightly.

In Quebec, employment grew by 21,000 in November, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.4 percentage points to 8.1%. During the economic downturn, employment has fallen in Quebec, albeit at a slower pace than the national average.

Employment in Alberta rose by 13,000 in November, the largest monthly increase since October 2008. Since March 2009, employment in the province has edged down by 7,000 (-0.4%), a much smaller loss than the 48,000 (-2.4%) observed during the first five months following the peak of October 2008.

In British Columbia, employment edged up in November. Since March 2009, employment has grown by 27,000 (+1.2%), reversing the downward trend observed during the first five months of the labour market downturn (-69,000 or -3.0%).

Employment also rose in Manitoba (+3,100), pushing the unemployment rate down 0.5 percentage points to 5.3%. Overall, Manitoba’s employment has remained stable throughout the labour market downturn.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment increased by 2,700 in November. This caused the unemployment rate to fall 1.1 percentage points to 15.9%.

More core-age women working

In November, employment increased by 51,000 among women aged 25 to 54 and by 17,000 among men aged 55 and over.

With November’s increase, employment among women aged 25 to 54 is almost back to its October 2008 level. For their male counterparts, while employment was little changed over the last few months, it remains well below its October 2008 level (-203,000 or -3.3%).

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.