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Data quality, concepts and methodology: Data Source

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This publication uses data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a monthly household survey that collects data on the labour market activities of working-age Canadians, namely, those 15 years or over. Excluded from the survey are persons living in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, persons living on Indian reserves, inmates of institutions, and full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The majority of LFS statistics refer to a particular week each month (the reference week). The data in this publication are based on the average of the 12 reference weeks of the year in question. Annual average data eliminate the effects of seasonal movements and, being based on larger samples, considerably reduce sampling error.

The statistical objective of the LFS from its inception has been to break the working-age population into three mutually exclusive classifications: employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force, and to provide descriptive and explanatory data on each category.

The 1997 LFS redesign allowed, for the first time, the exclusion of maternity leave, a major factor in time lost by women for personal or family responsibilities. The LFS enhancements also added more classification variables. It is now possible, for example, to estimate work absence rates by workplace size, union coverage and job permanency. (Note that any changes in a questionnaire may yield data that differ slightly from those of earlier years.)

Tables 1 to 3 provide absence rates for 2008 by a variety of factors; maternity leave is excluded from the personal or family responsibilities code. Tables 4 to 10 provide time series for the period 1998 to 2008.

For a fuller description of the LFS objectives, coverage, sampling techniques, concepts, definitions, and data quality, see the Labour Force Historical Review (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 71F0004XCB), or the Guide to the Labour Force Survey at /bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=71-543-GWE&lang=eng#olcinfopanel.