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Analysis — May 2010

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Following large gains in April, employment rose by 25,000 in May, the fifth consecutive monthly increase. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.1%. Since the start of the upward trend in July 2009, employment is up 1.8% or 310,000.

Full-time employment increased by 67,000 in May, partly offset by losses of 43,000 in part-time. Since July 2009, virtually all employment gains have been in full time.

The number of private sector employees increased by 43,000 in May, while there were 28,000 fewer self-employed workers. Since July 2009, the number of employees in the private sector has risen by 2.8%, with most of the gains in recent months. Since July 2009, the public sector has increased by 2.2%, while self-employment has fallen by 2.3%.

Industries with notable employment increases in May were transportation and warehousing; health care and social assistance; public administration; and agriculture. Declines were observed in information, culture and recreation; accommodation and food services; and natural resources. Employment was little changed in manufacturing and construction in May.

In May, employment was up in Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Nova Scotia. At the same time, employment declined in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. There was little employment change in the other provinces in May.

May’s overall employment growth was mainly among women aged 55 and over.

Average hourly wages rose by 2.4% in May compared with the same month last year, an increase similar to those observed in recent months.

Gains mostly in service industries

In May, employment gains were found in a number of industries.

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 26,000 in May, offsetting the declines of the past two months.

Health care and social assistance continued its long-term upward trend in May, with an increase of 18,000. There were also more people working in public administration (+13,000) and agriculture (+9,000) in May.

These gains were partly offset by employment declines in information, culture and recreation (-25,000); accommodation and food services (-22,000); and natural resources (-11,000).

There was little change in construction and manufacturing in May. Since July 2009, there has been solid employment growth in construction (+83,000 or 7.3%), while employment in manufacturing has been stable.

Notable employment gains in four provinces

Ontario’s employment was up 18,000 in May, all in full-time work. This month’s increase brings employment gains in that province to 127,000 (+1.9%) since July 2009, a rate of growth similar to the national average (+1.8%). In May, the unemployment rate inched up 0.1 percentage points to 8.9% as more people entered the labour market.

Employment in Alberta increased for the second straight month, up 15,000 in May, lowering the unemployment rate by 0.8 percentage points to 6.6%. With these recent gains, employment in the province is up slightly compared to July 2009 (+0.5%).

Strong employment gains in Newfoundland and Labrador in May (+7,600) pushed the unemployment rate down 1.2 percentage points to 13.8%. Recent employment increases bring total growth since July 2009 to 6.7%, the fastest of all provinces.

There were more people working in Nova Scotia in May, as employment increased by 3,500, bringing growth since July 2009 to 1.5%. The unemployment rate was 8.7% in May.

In May, employment was little changed in Quebec and the unemployment rate was 8.0%. Since July 2009, employment growth in Quebec has been among the fastest of all provinces at 2.3%.

Employment edged down in May in both British Columbia (-10,000) and Prince Edward Island (-1,900). Compared to July 2009, employment is up 2.0% in both provinces.

Employment up for women aged 55 and over

May’s employment increase was mainly among women aged 55 and over (+17,000). Since July 2009, employment has grown the fastest among men aged 55 and over (+5.0%), followed by women aged 55 and over (+3.1%).

Among core-aged workers (25 to 54), since July 2009, employment has risen by 1.7% for women and 1.0% for men. Over the same period, youth employment has grown by 1.6%.

Good start for student summer employment

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 who intend to return to school in the fall. The May survey results provide the first indicators of the summer job market, especially for students aged 20 to 24, as students aged 15 to 19 are not yet out of school for the summer. The data for June, July and August will provide further insight into the summer job market. The published estimates are not seasonally adjusted, and therefore comparisons can only be made from one year to another.

There were 54,000 more students aged 20 to 24 employed in May 2010, bringing their employment rate up 3.1 percentage points to 59.2% compared with May 2009. In May 2009, students were especially impacted by the labour market downturn.

Despite the increase compared to 2009, the student employment rate remains below that of May 2008 (63.6%), a year when student employment was particularly strong.

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.