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Analysis — April 2010

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Employment increased by 109,000 in April, the largest monthly gain in percentage terms since August 2002. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points in April to 8.1%, as more people participated in the labour market.

April’s gain is of similar magnitude to some of the monthly losses experienced in the most recent employment downturn that began in the fall of 2008.

The employment increase in April brings total gains since the start of the upward trend in July 2009 to 285,000.

Two-thirds of the employment growth in April was among men aged 25 and over (+72,000), the strongest monthly increase for this group since comparable data became available in 1976.

Employment growth in April was in both part-time (+65,000) and full-time (+44,000) work. Since July 2009, growth has been concentrated in full-time work.

All of April’s increase was among employees in the private sector.

Employment rose in a number of industries with wholesale and retail trade; business, building and other support services; and construction leading the way.

Employment increased in all provinces in April, with the largest increases in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.

Compared with a year earlier, average hourly wages were up 2.0% in April, similar to the increases observed since January 2010.

Employment growth led by men and youth

Employment growth in April was primarily among men aged 25 and over and youth, while there was little change for women.

Employment grew by 51,000 in April among men aged 25 to 54, the largest percentage increase in 16 years. Despite this gain, employment for this group remains 137,000 (-2.2%) below the employment peak of October 2008.

Employment for youths aged 15 to 24 grew by 23,000 in April. Despite gains in recent months, youth employment remains 168,000 (-6.4%) lower than in October 2008.

Men aged 55 and over also experienced employment growth in April (+21,000). In contrast to youths and men aged 25 to 54, employment for this group has risen by 98,000 (+6.5%) since October 2008.

Service sector leads gains

The largest increases in April were in retail and wholesale trade (+32,000); business, building and other support services (+31,000); construction (+24,000); and information, culture and recreation (+20,000).

The industries with notable losses in April were manufacturing (-21,000) and agriculture (-10,000).

Since July 2009, employment growth has been driven by gains in services, as well as construction and natural resources. Over the same period, employment in manufacturing has remained stable.

April’s employment growth was entirely among private sector employees (+109,000), while both the public sector and self-employment were unchanged.

Since July 2009, growth has been strongest among private sector employees (+2.4%), followed by those in the public sector (+1.9%). The number of self-employed workers has declined by 1.2% over the same period.

Robust employment growth in several provinces

Employment in Ontario increased by 41,000 in April, bringing gains since July 2009 to 109,000 (+1.7%). The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.8%, as more people participated in the labour market.

In April, employment grew by 35,000 in Quebec, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.9%. Since July 2009, employment in that province has grown by 91,000 (+2.4%).

In British Columbia, employment gains of 13,000 in April pushed the unemployment rate down 0.6 percentage points to 7.3%. Since July 2009, employment in the province has risen by 55,000 (+2.4%).

Employment in Alberta rose by 10,000 in April and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.4%. Despite April’s gain, Alberta is the only province with no employment growth since July 2009.

Employment also grew in Manitoba in April, up 7,000, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.3 percentage points to 4.9%, the lowest in the country.

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).

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which eases comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

The 2009 Labour Force Historical Review on DVD-ROM (71F0004XVB, $209) is now available.