Canada: Labor Force Survey February 2016

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%.

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 in 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 aged 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, employment among youth 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 as a 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%. Employment in the province 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, up 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, which includes 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, continuing 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 increased by 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 the number of self-employed workers 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.

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Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell