Canada: Labour Force Survey, March 2017

Employment was little changed in March (+19,000 or +0.1%), while the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 6.7% as more people searched for work.

In the first quarter of 2017, employment gains totalled 83,000 or 0.5%. This growth is comparable to the last quarter of 2016 (+91,000 or +0.5%) and notably higher than the first quarter of 2016 (+36,000 or +0.2%).

Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased by 276,000 (+1.5%), mostly in full-time work. Over the same period, the total number of hours worked rose 0.7%.

Highlights

In March, employment increased for men aged 25 to 54, while there was little change among other demographic groups.

Employment rose in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. At the same time, employment fell in Saskatchewan, while it was relatively stable in the remaining provinces.

There were more people working in manufacturing; business, building and other support services; wholesale and retail trade; and information, culture and recreation. On the other hand, declines were recorded in educational services; transportation and warehousing; “other services”; and public administration.

Demographic overview

Employment rose by 35,000 among men aged 25 to 54 in March, all in full-time work. Employment for this group has been on an upward trend, with gains totalling 101,000 (+1.6%) since August. This follows virtually no growth in 2015 and the first half of 2016. The unemployment rate for core-aged men was unchanged in March, as more of them participated in the labour market. On a year-over-year basis, the unemployment rate for men aged 25 to 54 declined 0.8 percentage points to 5.8%.

Among women aged 25 to 54, employment held steady in March and the unemployment rate was virtually unchanged at 5.2%. Employment among core-aged women has been on an upward trend since the fall of 2016. Gains totalled 86,000 (+1.5%) in the 12 months to March, entirely in full-time work.

Employment among men and women aged 55 and older edged down in March. The unemployment rate for this age group rose 0.4 percentage points to 6.2%, mostly due to more women searching for work. On a year-over-year basis, employment for people aged 55 and older rose by 101,000 or 2.7%, primarily the result of the continued transition of the baby-boom cohort into this older age group.

For youths aged 15 to 24, overall employment held steady in March, as full-time work edged up while part-time employment decreased. The youth unemployment rate was down slightly from March 2016 at 12.8%. Employment was relatively unchanged for this group in the 12 months to March, despite a declining youth population (-1.0%).

Provincial summary

Employment in Alberta rose by 20,000 in March, all in full-time work. Employment in the province has been on an upward trend since the autumn of 2016, following a strong downward trend which began in 2015. The unemployment rate was little changed in March, at 8.4%, as more people participated in the labour market. This was down from a recent high of 9.0% observed in November 2016, when the unemployment rate reached a peak associated with the commodities downturn that began in 2014.

There were 4,600 more people working in Nova Scotia in March. More people also searched for work and the unemployment rate increased 0.5 percentage points to 8.6%. The level of employment and the unemployment rate were each virtually unchanged from 12 months earlier.

In Manitoba, employment increased by 2,800 and the unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 5.5%. Employment in the province has been on a slight upward trend since November 2016, with gains totalling 8,600 (+1.4%) during that period.

Employment declined by 5,100 in Saskatchewan in March, partly offsetting an increase observed in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.0% as fewer people participated in the labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in Saskatchewan was virtually unchanged.

In March, there was little month-to-month employment change in the three most populous provinces. On a year-over-year basis, employment growth was positive in British Columbia (+3.5%), Quebec (+2.4%), and Ontario (+1.2%). An upward trend in employment among all three of these provinces was observed over the second half of 2016. In March, British Columbia continued to have the lowest unemployment rate of all provinces, at 5.4%, while Quebec and Ontario each had an unemployment rate of 6.4%.

Quarterly update for the territories

The Labour Force Survey collects labour market data in the territories, produced in the form of three-month moving averages.

In the first quarter of 2017, employment in Yukon increased by 600 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016. Over the same period, the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4%, as more people also participated in the labour market.

Employment in the Northwest Territories declined by 700 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, while the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.0%.

In Nunavut, employment fell by 500 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the last quarter of 2016 and the unemployment rate was 15.2%.

Industry perspective

Following a downward trend in manufacturing observed throughout 2016, employment in this industry rose by an estimated 24,000 in March. This is the largest one-month increase in manufacturing since August 2002. The net effect was that employment in manufacturing was at virtually the same level as 12 months earlier. Compared with its peak in the early 2000s, there were about 630,000 (-27%) fewer people working in manufacturing, and employment in the industry has been relatively flat since the 2008-2009 recession.

There were 18,000 more people working in business, building and other support services, contributing to total gains of 31,000 (+4.2%) in the first quarter of 2017. Employment in this industry was flat for most of 2016. This industry is broad and includes administrative or cleaning services to businesses and buildings, as well as employment services.

In wholesale and retail trade, employment increased for the second consecutive month, up 17,000 in March. On a year-over-year basis, there were 51,000 (+1.9%) more people working in the industry. Wholesale and retail trade is the largest industry group by employment, comprising an estimated 2.8 million people or 15% of all workers.

Employment in information, culture and recreation rose by 11,000 in March. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment was up 32,000 (+4.2%). This industry group includes amusement and heritage industries, as well as data processing, hosting and related services.

In educational services, employment declined by 15,000 in March, spread across several provinces. Despite this decline, there was relatively no change in employment on a year-over-year basis.

Employment declined by 13,000 in transportation and warehousing, following two months of gains. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was little changed.

There were 9,500 fewer people working in “other services” in March. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry was up 20,000 (+2.7%), mostly due to gains observed in the autumn of 2016. “Other services” include services related to civic and professional organizations, private households, and repair and maintenance.

In public administration, employment fell by 7,800 in March, following two months of increases. Compared with March 2016, there were 65,000 (+7.2%) more people working in public administration. Most of the year-over-year increase was in local, municipal and regional public administration.

Employment in agriculture declined by 6,900 in the month, and was down by 19,000 (-6.4%) compared with March 2016.

In March, the number of employees was little changed in both the private and public sectors. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of private sector employees increased by 220,000 (+1.9%), while the number of public sector employees increased by 67,000 (+1.9%). Self-employment was little changed on both a monthly and year-over-year basis.

StatsCanada

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

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