Analysis — February 2016

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Employment was virtually unchanged in February (-2,300 or 0.0%) as gains in part-time work were offset by losses in full time. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points for the third consecutive month, reaching 7.3% for the first time since March 2013.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 0.7% (+118,000), with the gains mostly coming from full-time work (+82,000 or +0.6%). At the same time, the number of hours worked increased by 1.0%.

Employment increased among men aged 55 and older in February, while the other demographic groups saw little change.

Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island registered employment declines, whereas British Columbia recorded an increase. There was little change in the remaining provinces.

Employment fell in health care and social assistance, educational services, ‘other services’, and natural resources. At the same time, there were more people working in construction, in business, building and other support services, as well as agriculture.

The number of public and private sector employees as well as the number of self-employed workers were little changed in February.

More men aged 55 and older employed

There were 18,000 more men aged 55 and older working in February. On a year-over-year basis, employment for this group was up 4.8% (+94,000). For their female counterparts, employment was little changed in February, but was up 5.1% (+81,000) on a year-over-year basis. Employment growth for men and women 55 and older has been driven by growth in their population.

Employment for men and women aged 25 to 54 was little changed on both a monthly and year-over-year basis. However, their unemployment rate was 6.3% in February, an increase of 0.6 percentage points compared with February 2015 as more of them searched for work.

For youths aged 15 to 24, employment edged down in February (-16,000), and the unemployment rate was 13.3%. On a year-over-year basis, youth employment fell by 2.2% (-56,000) while their population declined by 1.0% (-44,000).

Provincial summary

In February, employment fell by 7,800 in Saskatchewan, and the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 5.9%. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province was little changed. However, the unemployment rate was up 0.8 percentage points—the result of more people searching for work.

In New Brunswick, employment declined by 5,700 in February, and the unemployment rate increased 0.6 percentage points to 9.9%. Provincial employment has been on a downward trend since the autumn of 2015.

Employment in Prince Edward Island declined by 600, and the unemployment rate rose from 9.5% to 11.0%. In the 12 months to February, employment in the province was down 2,200 (-3.0%).

British Columbia was the lone province with more people working in February (+14,000). This brought total employment gains to 69,000 or 3.0% on a year-over-year basis, the highest rate of growth of all the provinces. In addition, British Columbia has outpaced the national year-over-year employment growth rate since June 2015. The unemployment rate in the province was 6.6% in February, unchanged from the previous month.

Following two monthly increases, employment in Ontario was little changed in February and the unemployment rate was 6.8%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province advanced by 74,000 or 1.1%, the second highest rate of growth among the provinces. The gains were mostly in full-time work.

Employment in Quebec was little changed both on a monthly and year-over-year basis, and the unemployment rate remained at 7.6% in February.

While employment in Alberta was also little changed in February, year-over-year declines totalled 21,000 (-0.9%), driven by losses in full-time work (-56,000 or -2.9%). With more Albertans in search of employment, the unemployment rate in the province reached 7.9% in February—an increase of 0.5 percentage points from January and up 2.5 percentage points from February 2015.

Industry perspective

In February, there were 20,000 fewer people working in health care and social assistance. Despite this decline, employment in the industry was up 61,000 (+2.7%) on a year-over-year basis.

The number of workers also fell in educational services (-17,000), bringing employment in the industry down to a level slightly lower than that of 12 months earlier.

In the ‘other services’ industry, such as repair and maintenance, employment declined by 15,000. In the 12 months to February, however, the number of people working in this industry was virtually unchanged.

There were 8,900 fewer people working in natural resources, which continued a downward trend that began late in 2014.

On the other hand, there were 34,000 more people working in construction in February. On a year-over-year basis, however, employment in the industry was virtually unchanged.

The number of people working in business, building and other support services also increased, up 13,000 in February. Despite this increase, employment in this industry was close to the level observed 12 months earlier.

Employment in agriculture rose by 7,200 in February. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry was little changed.

Despite little change in February, employment in manufacturing increased by 41,000 (+2.4%) from 12 months earlier. These gains were driven by growth in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

The number of employees in the private and public sectors as well as self-employment were little changed in February, as well as on a year-over-year basis.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to US concepts, the unemployment rate in Canada was 6.2% in February versus 4.9% in the United States. Compared with February 2015, the unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points in Canada, while it declined by 0.6 percentage points in the United States.

The labour force participation rate in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) was 65.7% in February, compared with 62.9% in the United States.

In February, the US-adjusted employment rate in Canada stood at 61.7%, compared with 59.8% in the United States. Compared with 12 months earlier, the employment rate in Canada declined by 0.3 percentage points, while in the United States, it increased by 0.5 percentage points.

For further information on Canada-US comparisons, see Measuring Employment and Unemployment in Canada and the United States – A comparison.

Note to readers

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for February are for the week of February 14 to 20.

The LFS estimates are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. As a result, monthly estimates will show more variability than trends observed over longer time periods. For more information, see Interpreting Monthly Changes in Employment from the Labour Force Survey. Estimates for smaller geographic areas or industries also 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).

This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level.

The employment rate is the number of employed persons as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over. The rate for a particular group (for example, youths aged 15 to 24) is the number employed in that group as a percentage of the population for that group.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed).

The participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed as a percentage of the population.

For more detailed information, see the Guide to the Labour Force Survey (71-543-G).

Seasonal adjustment

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted estimates, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Chart 1 shows trend-cycle data on employment. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series, which provide information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. These data are available in CANSIM table 282-0087 for the Canada-level employment series. For more information, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Next release

The next release of the LFS will be on April 8.

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