Commentaries /

June 2023 LFS: Canada’s job market is turning a corner for the first time in a year

June 2023 LFS: Canada’s job market is turning a corner for the first time in a year

Canada’s labour market is turning a corner with June’s data. Coming in at the highest level in over a year, Canada’s unemployment rate edged up to 5.4%.

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Rewa

Canada’s labour market is turning a corner with June’s data. Coming in at the highest level in over a year, Canada’s unemployment rate edged up to 5.4%. We’re also seeing average hourly wages coming off the boil, with their slowest growth in over a year. 

However, the headline jobs number was strong, exceeding market expectations with a gain of 60K jobs (vs. 20K consensus), driven by full-time employment.

Overall, the market is showing signs of strength and resilience, although wage growth is moderating while still remaining high. While a softening labour market was the kind of good news that the Bank was likely hoping for, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to dissuade another hike.

Marwa Abdou, Senior Research Director, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Canada’s unemployment rate stands at 5.4%, a 0.2% increase from May, and the highest level in over a year. This represents a shift from the near-record lows of 4.9% recorded last summer.
  • Market analysts anticipated a slight increase in job numbers (+20,000) and a marginal recovery in workforce participation. However, June’s data surpassed expectations, reporting a gain of 60,000 jobs (0.3% increase) compared to the lackluster report in May. Considering the unemployment rate, these indicators suggest a weakening labor market.
  • June’s job gains came by way of upticks in the full-time employment (+110K; +0.7%) from May. The gains were concentrated in men; employment among women of all age groups remained relatively stable throughout June.
  • Job gains were seen in wholesale and retail trade (+33K), manufacturing (+27K), health care and social assistance (+21K) and transportation and warehousing (+10K). However, it wasn’t all positive news for Canadian businesses as declines were seen in construction (-14K), education (-14K) and agriculture (-6K).
  • Total hours worked remained virtually unchanged in June and were up 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. Conversely, average hourly wages slowed to 4.2% on a year-over-year basis in June, following an increase in May (5.1%). While it was the slowest wage growth since May 2022, this is still higher than inflation (3.4% in May). As the Bank of Canada enters a critical period in managing inflation, and ahead of next week’s policy rate announcement, this continues to be a critical indicator.
  • Provincial employment increased in three provinces – Ontario (+56K), Nova Scotia (+3.6K), and Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.3K). Employment declined in Prince Edward Island (-2.4K). There was little variation in the other provinces.
  • Overall, as the last major economic data release before next Wednesday’s interest rate decision by the Bank, this report provided some positive news as the market is slowly coming back into balance. While it won’t be the only factor weighing on the decision, it certainly won’t hurt in alleviating some of the Bank’s concerns in bringing down inflation to its target.

SUMMARY TABLES

CHARTS

Commentaries /

June 2023 LFS: Canada’s labour market momentum is fading

June 2023 LFS: Canada’s labour market momentum is fading

We shouldn’t over-react to one month of data, but it’s now clear that momentum in Canada’s labour market has faded since January’s blockbuster hiring binge.

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Rewa

We shouldn’t over-react to one month of data, but it’s now clear that momentum in Canada’s labour market has faded since January’s blockbuster hiring binge. Will today’s release mark a turning point, when the strong-and-long run for Canada’s labour market finally came to an end? Last month, there were cracks in the foundation when employment growth shifted from full-time to part-time jobs. This month, employment fell for the first time in eight months — albeit modestly, by only 17,000 jobs, and concentrated entirely in the youth segment. We’ll need a few more months of data to definitively call any turning point, but this release will have recession watchers on heightened alert over the summer months.

Stephen Tapp, Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Canadian employment fell by 17,000 jobs in May, representing the first time in several months that employment was well below market expectations (+21,000.)
  • Hours worked fell by 0.4%, which isn’t an encouraging signal for Canada’s GDP growth in the second quarter.
  • The unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.2% — the first increase in nine months, although it remains near all-time lows.
  • There was evidence of a slow start to the summer job season with weakness concentrated in younger workers (jobs for those aged 15-24 fell by 77k), while jobs for core-age workers continued to climb (+63k). Employment was little changed for older workers.
  • By sector, job losses occurred in services (-40k, with business -31k and professional -13k). Employment rose in goods sectors, led by manufacturing (+13k).
  • In what remains a tight labour market, average hourly wages grew by 5.1% year-over-year. Despite weak labour productivity, wages continue to outpace inflation (4.4% in April), as workers’ pay is now catching up for the big inflation spike.
  • By province, employment in May fell in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, but increased in Manitoba. There was little change in other provinces.
  • Hybrid and remote work patterns are settling into a new post-pandemic equilibrium. In May, almost one quarter of employees either worked exclusively at home (14.4%) or in a hybrid arrangement (10%).

SUMMARY TABLES

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Commentaries /

May 2023 LFS: Canada’s labour market is still defying expectations, but gearing down to part-time work

May 2023 LFS: Canada’s labour market is still defying expectations, but gearing down to part-time work

Canada’s labour market continued to outperform expectations in April with an increase of 41,000 jobs.

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Rewa

Canada’s labour market continued to outperform expectations in April with an increase of 41,000 jobs. However, the gains came exclusively from part-time employment, a sign that the full-time hiring binge may not be over. The labour market remains quite tight. The unemployment rate is 5%, near its generation low. Wages are growing at 5.2% year-over-year, at a healthy pace and running above the current inflation, something that will have the Bank of Canada watching closely.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Canadian employment rose by 41,000 jobs in April, once again exceeding market expectations (20,000), however all the growth came from part-time positions.
  • Hours worked rose by 0.2%. The LFS reference week occurred prior to the federal public servant strike, so there is still some downside risk to GDP in April.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0% for the fifth consecutive month, and remains near generational lows achieved last summer.
  • Job gains were concentrated in part-time jobs (+48k, 1.3%), for the first noticeable gain since October. Full-time employment was essentially unchanged on the month.
  • By sector, job gains were led by wholesale and retail trade (+24k) and transportation and warehousing (+17k). Employment was down in business services (-14k) and finance (-9k).
  • In this tight labour market, average hourly wage growth remained strong at 5.2% year-over-year, and is now running faster than consumer price inflation (4.3% in March).
  • Employment in April rose in Ontario (+33k; +0.4%) and Prince Edward Island (+2.2k; +2.5%), but declined in Manitoba (-4.k; -0.6%). There was little change in the other provinces.

SUMMARY TABLES

LABOUR CHARTS

Commentaries /

April 2023 LFS: The “can’t stop, won’t stop” jobs juggernaut continues

April 2023 LFS: The “can’t stop, won’t stop” jobs juggernaut continues

Canada’s economy added another 35,000 jobs in March, and 231,100 in the first quarter — an impressive number that tops even the most optimistic forecaster’s call.

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Stephen Tapp

Today’s data continue to underscore the resilience of Canada’s labour market at a time when many are waiting for a recession to hit. Canada’s economy added another 35,000 jobs in March, and 231,100 in the first quarter — an impressive number that tops even the most optimistic forecaster’s call. Hours worked remain strong, suggesting Canada’s GDP growth will post a solid bounce-back in the first quarter. Wage growth of 5.3% year-over-year finally jumped past the rate of inflation. The Bank of Canada is unlikely to deviate from their paused position next week. But at some point, if these dynamics continue, interest rates may need to go higher.

Stephen Tapp, Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Canadian employment rose by a solid 34,700 jobs in March, continuing the trend of beating market expectations (7,500).
  • Total hours worked increased 0.4%, and gained an impressive 5% annualized for the first quarter.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0% for the fourth straight month, and remains near generational lows.
  • Job gains were concentrated in the private sector (+35k), which is welcome news, and continues to close the gap with the public sector that drove employment growth earlier in the pandemic.
  • By sector, job gains were led by services (76k): specifically transportation and warehousing (41k, recouping equivalent losses over the first two months of the year), business services (31k) and finance and insurance (19k). Employment was down in goods-producing sectors (-41k), falling in construction (-19k) and natural resources (-11k).
  • In this tight labour market, average hourly wage growth remained strong at 5.3% year-over-year, and is now running slightly higher than CPI inflation (5.2%).
  • Provincial employment increased in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Prince Edward Island, but declined in Saskatchewan.
  • As Canada’s workforce grows it is becoming more diverse. In March, racialized groups comprised 28.6% of the employed population in Canada. The largest racialized groups are South Asian, Chinese and Black Canadians, together representing 17% of employment.

SUMMARY TABLES

Commentaries /

March 2023 LFS: Canada’s job market continues to outperform expectations in February

March 2023 LFS: Canada’s job market continues to outperform expectations in February

Amid high interest rates and slowing economic growth, February’s jobs report shows there's still plenty of steam left in the engine for Canada’s labour market.

Author's image
Marwa Abdou

Amid high interest rates and slowing economic growth, February’s Labour Force Survey results shows there’s still plenty of steam left in the engine for Canada’s labour market. Following on last month’s blockbuster showing, this is another strong report – once again exceeding market expectations. We added another 22,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0%, close to its all-time low.

As we continue to monitor the economy for signs of cooling, hours worked keep rising, which suggests Canadian real GDP will get back into positive territory in 2023 Q1. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that average hourly wages rose 5.4% on year over year in February, up noticeably from 4.5% the month earlier. This number may cause the BoC to re-think its strategy of hold off on further rate hikes.

One thing is clear, the labour market remains exceptionally tight, keeping the keys firmly in the hands of job-seekers. It may be a while longer before the acute labour pressures that have plagued businesses begin to lift.

– Marwa Abdou, Senior Research Director, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • At 5.0%, Canada’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly tight and refuses to budge from near-record lows of 4.9% posted last summer. Though it was anticipated to edge up slightly (+10k), February’s figures posted an additional gain of +22K jobs.
  • Continuing to be a strong driver of job growth were the employment numbers of workers aged 55 to 64 — +25K jobs (+0.7%) in February. This is the seventh month continuing a strong upward trend for this age group. Employment among youth and core-aged adults saw little change.
  • Most of February’s job gains came from upticks in the fields of health care and social assistance (+15K; +0.6%), public administration (+10K; +0.9%), and utilities (+7.5K; +5.0%). The private sector also saw an impressive boost of 39K jobs (+0.3%), while public sector employment and self-employment saw little change. Conversely, jobs were lost in business services (-11K; -1.5%).
  • Total hours also edged up an impressive 0.6% in February and are up 1.4% on a year-over-year basis.
  • Average hourly wages rose 5.4% year-over-year — an uptick from January’s 4.5% after two months of deceleration. While this suggests households will have some spending power to navigate the rising living costs, the real risk is how this rebound will weigh on inflation—especially when labour productivity has been weak.
  • Provincial employment increased in four provinces. After three consecutive months of lackluster growth, Manitoba posted a solid gain (+4.3K; 0.7%). Three of four Atlantic provinces saw modest rebounds after higher-than-average unemployment rates – New Brunswick (+5.1K; 1.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (3.6K; 1.6%), Prince Edward Island (+1.7K; 2%). While there was little change in remaining provinces, Nova Scotia saw a decline (-4.7K; -0.9%).
  • With its modest growth, February’s jobs report certainly brought more welcome news for job seekers. For the remainder of the economy, it leaves more room for doubt as to how much longer the market will continue to weigh on businesses as they continue to grapple with sustained recruitment and retention challenges amidst an extraordinarily difficult economic climate.
  • As the gap between wage growth and inflation narrowed more this month, it remains to be seen whether this will be tip the Bank of Canada to lift its current hold on additional hikes as announced earlier this week.

SUMMARY TABLES

Sources: Statistics Canada; Canadian Chamber of Commerce Business Data Lab
Commentaries /

February 2023 LFS: Smashing market expectations, Canada’s job market grows 10X consensus in January  

February 2023 LFS: Smashing market expectations, Canada’s job market grows 10X consensus in January  

In stark contrast to recent high-tech layoffs, January’s blockbuster jobs report is proof that there’s still plenty of wind in the sails for Canada’s labour market.

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Marwa Abdou

In stark contrast to recent high-tech layoffs, January’s blockbuster jobs report is proof that there’s still plenty of wind in the sails for Canada’s labour market. This was one of the strongest labour reports in a while, with 150K net new jobs added in January – double December’s figure and blowing past the market consensus of modest gains of 15k.

We also can’t ignore the broad-based gains for the fifth month – in both private as well as public sector – were accompanied by an impressive uptick in total hours (+0.8%). The big takeaway from this morning’s data is that calls for a recession in the Q1 2023 will have to wait.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • January’s release reported job gains ten times bigger than market expectations (+15k) with 150K jobs (+0.8%) added to the economy. Broad-based gains were seen in full time (+121K) as well as private sector work (+115K).
  • At 5.0%, Canada’s unemployment rate continues to hover near-record lows of 4.9%. Today’s epic report signals we’re not coming off the boil as quickly as expected, raising more questions about what comes next.
  • Employment for the core working ages (25-54) was a key driver of this growth with an impressive uptick in gains of 0.8% (+100K). Employment rate among women was evenly split and is welcomed momentum for this subsector after December’s almost three-decade record high.
  • Provincial employment increased in five provinces including Ontario (+63K), Quebec (+47K) and Alberta (+21K). Growth was also witnessed in several key industries including wholesale and retail trade (+59K), health care and social assistance (+40K); as well as educational services (+18K).
  • Hours worked were especially notable after December’s lull as they edged up 0.8%. With a 5.6% year-over-year growth, this figure is an impressive rebound from a year prior when Canada was still in lockdowns with very high absenteeism.
  • After months of persistent growth, the increase of 4.5% in average hourly wages slowed down from December’s figure (4.8%), although this partly reflects compositional changes based on comparing with January 2022, when there were fewer low-income jobs due to COVID restrictions. It’s clear that the full effect of BoC’s recent rate hikes hasn’t taken hold yet for the labour market. While trailing behind the latest inflation figures, it’s still well above the BoC’s target of 2%.
  • All in all, January’s epic headline data comes after an equally impressive (and surprising!) labour numbers we saw south of the border last week. With January’s BoC’s rate pause, it leaves the door open to what lies ahead in a market that’s expected to be tough on businesses and consumers.

SUMMARY TABLES

Commentaries /

December 2022 LFS: Blowing past expectations, a stellar and unexpected rebound for Canada’s labour market

December 2022 LFS: Blowing past expectations, a stellar and unexpected rebound for Canada’s labour market

Today’s year-end data shows the strength of Canada’s labour market. At 5%, the December unemployment rate is back down near...

Author's image
Marwa Abdou

Today’s year-end data shows the strength of Canada’s labour market. At 5%, the December unemployment rate is back down near the record lows that we saw six months ago. We also had another impressive and unexpected gain of 104,000 jobs, following subdued November figures. This gain was broad-based across industries and provinces. It was also mostly led by full-time, private-sector positions for youth workers. Wage growth remained above 5% for a seventh consecutive month.

A single blemish on an otherwise stellar report is that hours worked were little changed from November. All in all, it leaves us anticipating another hike by the Bank of Canada (BoC) later this month as they continue to try and slow down this piping hot job market.

Marwa Abdou, Senior Research Director, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Key Takeaways

  • At 5.0%, the unemployment rate is only slightly above near 40-year record low of 4.9% seen in June and July.
  • December experienced an increase of nearly 104K jobs (+0.5%) as employment continues an upward trend. This gain, which defied market expectations (of +5 to 10K jobs), was driven by an increase for full time (+85K) and private sector work (+112K).
  • Fully recouping cumulative losses from July to September, employment among youth (age 15-24) had an impressive gain of 69K jobs.
  • Although employment among people in the core working ages (25-54) was little changed, employment rate among women in this group showed an almost three-decade record high. Looking at year-over-year (y-o-y) figures – 81.0% of core-aged women were employed in 2022. Also, immigrant women workers saw a rate boost from 2019 (+9.7%).
  • Hours worked saw little changefrom November – only up 1.4% y-o-y despite December’s massive job gain.
  • December data highlighted an increase in staff absenteeism (8.1% compared to pre-pandemic average of 6.9%) due to illness as elevated cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses continue in many parts of the country.
  • Average hourly wages remain strong at 5.1% though growth has decelerated. This is the seventh consecutive month that hourly wages have remained above the 5% mark. This is still well behind the country’s inflation rate (6.8% in November).
  • Provincial employment increased across six provinces (Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan). Ontario (+42K), Alberta (+25K) and British Columbia (+17K) clocked in the job growth figures from November.
  • Job gains were widespread across multiple service sector industries, including construction (+35k), transportation (+29k), culture and recreation (+25k), as well as professional and other services (+23K). Still, there were industries that slightly contracted including manufacturing (-8K), retail and wholesale trade (-9K), education (-10k) and health (-17K).
  • All in all, December’s strong headline data increases the likelihood that the BoC will announce an additional interest rate hike by the end of this month. With working hours not budging, it also remains to be seen how this will translate in GDP figures.

Summary Tables

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Commentaries /

November 2022: Labour Force Survey

November 2022: Labour Force Survey

Our Economist, Mahmoud Khairy, comments on Canada’s steady unemployment rate from today’s Labour Force Survey. He says, “Today’s labour force data demonstrated little change in Canada’s unemployment rate, which was 5.1% in November, down by only 0.1% from October.”

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Business Data Lab

A steady hold for Canada’s unemployment as wage growth persists

Today’s labour force data demonstrated little change in Canada’s unemployment rate, which was 5.1% in November, down by only 0.1% from October. After a very impressive headline gain in October, we had a very little increase of 10,000 net-new jobs in November.

This gain was broad-based across sectors — by way of full-time core-aged female workers, in both private and public sectors. Hours worked settled and wage growth picked up to 5.6% y-o-y. It will mean keeping an eye out for further rate hikes ahead as the Bank of Canada continues to steadily slow inflation.

Mahmoud Khairy, Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Key Takeaways

  • November’s monthly unemployment rate showed minimal change at 5.1%, which was a 0.1% decline from October’s figure.
  • Canadian employment increased by only 10,000 jobs in November. This figure was in line with market expectations following a larger than expected gain in October of 108,000 jobs (+0.6%).
  • Total hours worked were up by only 0.1%, after a 0.7% gain in October. Compared to the year prior, this is an increase of 1.8% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • Employment growth in the private and public sectors also stabilized, while having grown around 2% over the past 12 months.
  • Full-time jobs rose (+51k) in November — up over 2.9% y-o-y, while part-time employment continues with its sixth consecutive month flat streak.
  • Job gains occurred across most sectors including finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (21k), manufacturing (19k), information, culture and recreation (16k). Jobs contracted in construction (-25k), wholesale and trade (-23k) and professional, scientific and technical services (-15K) sectors.
  • As employers look to fill record-high job vacancies, wage growth is now showing signs of slowing down.This month marks the sixth straight month since June that y-o-y growth has exceeded 5%. This will surely raise flags for the Bank of Canada as it looks to reel inflation in with aggressive hikes.
  • The biggest provincial employment increase was in Quebec (+28K), while conversely, the largest contractions were in Alberta (-15K) and British Columbia (-14K).

Summary Tables

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