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Analysis — January 2010

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Employment increased by 43,000 in January, all in part time, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 8.3%. January marks the fourth employment gain in the last six months.

Despite the recent increases, employment still remains 280,000 below the level of October 2008.

Employment gains in January were driven by women aged 25 to 54 and youths. This is the first notable increase for youths since the start of the employment downturn in the fall of 2008.

There were large increases in part-time employment in January, bringing it back to the level of six months earlier. Full-time employment was little changed in January, but has trended up over the last six months.

January’s increase was among private sector employees, while self-employment declined. Over the last six months, the number of private and public sector employees has been rising while self-employment has been little changed.

The largest employment increases in January occurred in business, building and other support services, and retail and wholesale trade. These were partially offset by losses in professional, scientific, and technical services, as well as agriculture.

Ontario accounted for more than half of the employment gains in January, followed by British Columbia and Manitoba. Employment declined in Nova Scotia while it was unchanged in all other provinces.

Employment gains among core-aged women and youths

The increase in employment in January affected mainly women aged 25 to 54 and youths. Employment for youths increased 29,000, pushing the unemployment rate down from 16.0% to 15.1%. This is the first notable employment increase for youths since the start of the downturn in the fall of 2008.

Women aged 25 to 54 also recorded employment growth in January (+32,000), and their unemployment rate was 6.3%. In recent months, employment levels among core-aged women have been on a slight upward trend. For core-aged men, the unemployment rate was 7.9% in January and employment has been flat since July.

Among workers 55 and over, employment was unchanged in January. Since the start of the labour market downturn, employment for that group is up 4.4%.

Gains in business, building and other support services

There was an increase of 34,000 in business, building and other support services in January, offsetting the decline in the previous month. Despite this month’s increase, the industry has been on a downward trend since the summer of 2009.

Employment in wholesale and retail trade was up 23,000 in January, the third consecutive monthly increase.

Following two months of gains, employment in professional, scientific and technical services fell in January (-22,000).

Manufacturing edged down in January. While employment in this industry has been little changed since July 2009, it remains 223,000 below the level observed in October 2008.

Despite little change over the past three months, employment in construction has increased by 56,000 since last July.

Gains in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba

Employment in Ontario was up 30,000 in January. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.2% as more people participated in the labour market. Since July, employment in the province has been on a slight upward trend (+51,000).

Employment in British Columbia increased by 12,000 in January continuing on the upward trend that began in July 2009 (+32,000). The unemployment rate in January edged down 0.2 percentage points to 8.1%.

Following a large loss in December, employment in Manitoba increased by 8,000. The unemployment rate declined 0.4 percentage points to 5.4%.

While employment in Quebec was unchanged in January, the unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percentage points to 8.0%, the result of fewer people participating in the labour market. Since July 2009, employment in the province has been on a slight upward trend (+41,000).

Employment fell by 5,000 in Nova Scotia, the only province to experience a notable decline in January. This pushed the unemployment rate up 0.2 percentage points to 9.8%.

Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) 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 of the publication Labour Force Information (71-001-X, free).

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


Every January, seasonally adjusted estimates from the LFS are revised using the latest seasonal factors. This year, a new seasonal adjustment model (X-12-ARIMA) was also introduced. As a result, all seasonally adjusted estimates have been revised historically and were released as scheduled in CANSIM (tables 282-0087 to 282-0094) on January 29, 2010.

In addition there were two other revisions. First, the seasonally adjusted actual hours series (CANSIM table 282-0092) have been revised using a calculation method that is consistent with that used by the System of National Accounts. Second, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted CANSIM tables with 1985 and 1986 estimates have also been revised, due to processing and methodology changes.

All of these revisions will also be reflected in the 2009 Labour Force Historical Review on DVD-ROM, which will be released March 5th, 2010.