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Economy Adds 64,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Steady At 5.5%: StatCan

Employment rose by 64,000 (+0.3%) in September, following an increase of 40,000 (+0.2%) in August.

The employment rate—the proportion of the population aged 15 and older who are employed—rose 0.1 percentage points to 62.0%, offsetting a decline in the previous month.

The unemployment rate was unchanged in September and stood at 5.5% for the third consecutive month.

Employment increased among core-aged (aged 25 to 54 years) women (+37,000; +0.6%) and men (+32,000; +0.5%), while it was little changed for youth aged 15 to 24 and people aged 55 and older.

There were more people employed in educational services (+66,000; +4.5%), offsetting a decrease of 44,000 (-2.9%) in August. Employment in transportation and warehousing also increased (+19,000; +1.8%), while there were fewer people employed in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-20,000; -1.4%), construction (-18,000; -1.1%) and information, culture and recreation (-12,000; -1.4%).

Employment increased in six provinces in September, led by Quebec (+39,000; +0.9%) and British Columbia (+26,000; +0.9%). Employment declined in Alberta (-38,000; -1.5%) and New Brunswick (-2,700; -0.7%).

On a year-over-year basis, average hourly wages rose 5.0% (+$1.63 to $34.01) in September, following increases of 4.9% in August and 5.0% in July.

Total hours worked were virtually unchanged in September and rose by 2.6% on a year-over-year basis.

Employment rate edges up, offsetting decline in the previous month

Employment rose by 64,000 (+0.3%) in September, following an increase of 40,000 (+0.2%) in August. On average, employment has grown by 30,000 per month since the beginning of the year.

The upward trend in employment continues to occur in the context of the highest rate of population growth since 1957. In September, the population aged 15 and older in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) increased by 82,000 (+0.3%) (See text box: How is population growth accounted for in the Labour Force Survey?).

The employment rate—the proportion of the population aged 15 years and older who are employed—can help assess whether employment growth is keeping pace with population growth. Given the pace of population growth recorded in recent months, employment gains of approximately 50,000 per month are needed for the employment rate to remain constant.

In September, the employment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 62.0%, offsetting the decline recorded in August. The employment rate in September was little changed from the same month in 2022 (61.9%), but was down 0.5 percentage points from the recent peak recorded in January 2023 (62.5%).

Chart 1 
Employment rate increases in September, but remains down from January

Chart 1: Employment rate increases in September, but remains down from January

How is population growth accounted for in the Labour Force Survey?

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) target population includes all persons aged 15 years and older whose usual place of residence is in Canada, with the exception of those living on reserves, full-time members of the regular Armed Forces and persons living in institutions (including inmates of penal institutions and patients in hospitals and nursing homes).

The LFS target population includes temporary residents—that is, those with a valid work or study permit, their families, and refugee claimants—as well as permanent residents (landed immigrants) and the Canadian-born.

Information gathered from LFS respondents is weighted to represent the survey target population using population calibration totals. These totals are updated each month, using the most recently available information on population changes, including changes in the number of non-permanent residents. LFS population calibration totals are derived from Canada’s official population estimates using similar sources and methods, with minor adjustments being made to reflect exclusions from the LFS target population.

Employment growth driven by part-time work

Employment growth in September was concentrated in part-time work, which rose by 48,000 (+1.3%). Since the beginning of the year, growth in part-time work (+1.9%) has outpaced growth in full-time work (+1.0%).

Part-time work may be voluntary or involuntary. The involuntary part-time rate—the proportion of employed people working less than 30 hours who wanted full-time work—stood at 17.5% in September. This was higher than the proportion recorded during the same month in 2022 (16.5%) (three-month moving average, not seasonally adjusted).

Self-employment increases for second consecutive month but remains below pre-COVID-19 pandemic level

The number of self-employed workers rose by 26,000 (+1.0%) in September, following an increase of 50,000 (+1.9%) in August. From July to September, the number of self-employed men increased by 55,000, accounting for 72.6% of the increase over this period.

The share of workers who were self-employed was 13.2% in September, up from July (12.9%), but little changed from January (13.3%) and below the pre-pandemic share recorded in February 2020 (14.6%). Self-employment has remained flat since its decline following the onset of the pandemic. In the months from March 2020 to July 2023, the number of self-employed people increased just four times and as of September 2023, it remained below its February 2020 level (-124,000; -4.4%).

Relative increases in self-employment can be associated with many factors, including changes in the composition of employment by industry, and changes in individual characteristics, circumstances and motivations. In addition, some past increases in self-employment have been associated with economic downturns. Self-employed people work across a wide variety of industries. In September, the industries accounting for the highest shares of self-employed workers were professional, scientific and technical services (16.9%), construction (14.5%) and health care and social assistance (12.4%) (not seasonally adjusted).

The number of employees in the public sector increased by 37,000 (+0.9%) in September, the first increase since January. On a year-over-year basis, public sector employment increased by 86,000, and accounted for 15.5% of the overall net increase in employment (+552,000) over this period.

The number of private sector employees was little changed in September. Despite seeing little growth since June, the number of private sector employees was up 412,000 on a year-over-year basis and accounted for three-quarters (74.6%) of the overall net increase in employment over this period.

Employment increases among core aged women and men

Employment was up among core-aged (aged 25 to 54) women (+37,000; +0.6%) and men (+32,000; +0.5%) in September. The employment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 81.8% among core-aged women, and by 0.2 percentage points to 87.9% among core-aged men.

Employment rose by 12,000 (+0.9%) for young men (aged 15 to 24), while it declined for young women (-15,000; -1.1%). The employment rates of young men (56.8%) and young women (58.2%) were both little changed from a year earlier. Employment and employment rates among women and men aged 55 and older were little changed in September.

Employment rate of core-aged Indigenous people living off reserve declines in the 12 months to September

The employment rate for Indigenous people has generally been lower than for non-Indigenous people, reflecting the historical and ongoing impacts of colonization, and other factors including barriers to educational opportunities and labour market inequities. The gap has varied over time, and changes in labour market conditions can have different impacts for Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. For example, following the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, employment recovered more slowly among Indigenous people.

In the 12 months to September 2023, the employment rate of core-aged Indigenous people living off reserve in the provinces fell 2.2 percentage points to 74.4%. In comparison, the employment rate for the non-Indigenous core-aged population held steady at 84.8% over this period (three-month moving averages, not seasonally adjusted).

The employment rate of core-aged First Nations women living off reserve was 66.1% in September, compared with 68.6% a year earlier. Among First Nations men living off reserve, it was 76.2%, compared with 73.8% a year earlier.

Among Métis men, in the 12 months to September, the employment rate fell 4.9 percentage points to 79.9%. Among Métis women, the employment rate in September (77.4%) was little changed from the same month in 2022 (78.6%).

Over the first nine months of 2023, the average employment rate for core-aged Indigenous people living off reserve in the provinces (74.3%) has been 10.7 percentage points lower than the average employment rate for non-Indigenous people of the same age group (85.0%). This represents an increase from the gap recorded over the corresponding period in 2022 (7.5 percentage points lower for core-aged Indigenous people), and is closer to the average gap recorded prior to the pandemic (11.5 percentage points lower for core-aged Indigenous people over the first nine months of 2019).

Unemployment rate rises among core-aged men, as labour force participation rate increases

The unemployment rate was unchanged in September and stood at 5.5% for the third consecutive month, following an increase of 0.5 percentage points from April to July.

The unemployment rate for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 0.4 percentage points from August to 4.9% in September. Owing to increases in both the number of employed persons and the number of unemployed job seekers, the labour force participation rate—the proportion of the population who were either employed or looking for work—rose 0.6 percentage points and reached 92.4% in September, the highest rate since August 1991. Historically, the labour force participation rate of core-aged men has consistently remained above 90%, except during the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

The unemployment rate among core-aged women was 4.5% in September 2023, virtually unchanged from the previous month but down from the recent high of 5.0% recorded in July. The labour force participation rate of core-aged women increased 0.2 percentage points to 85.6% in September, just below the record high reached in February and July 2023 (85.7%).

The youth unemployment rate has fluctuated over the summer months—in September, the unemployment rates for young men (11.3%) and young women (9.6%) were both little changed from the rates recorded in May.

Among persons aged 55 and older, the unemployment rate has been on an upward trend since April. It increased for men (+0.9 percentage points to 5.2%) and women (+1.2 percentage points to 4.7%) over this period.

Chart 2 
Unemployment rate stands at 5.5% for third consecutive month

Chart 2: Unemployment rate stands at 5.5% for third consecutive month

Employment up in the services-producing sector, led by educational services

Employment in educational services increased by 66,000 (+4.5%) in September, offsetting a decrease of 44,000 (-2.9%) in August. Slight variations in the timing of when school-year contracts end and begin can have an effect on month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted employment estimates for this industry over the summer months. From May to September, employment in education services rose by 26,000 (+1.8%), continuing an upward trend started in September 2022.

Following an increase of 13,000 in August 2023, employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 19,000 (+1.8%) in September. Since January, the number of people employed in transportation and warehousing has increased by 82,000. The increase accounted for over one-third (34.4%) of net employment growth across all industries over this period.

There were fewer people working in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-20,000; -1.4%) in September. Employment in the industry had also declined in August (-16,000; -1.1%). These two decreases offset moderate growth in this industry seen from September 2022 to July 2023, with the industry showing little change in employment over the last 12 months.

In construction, employment fell 18,000 (-1.1%) in September, partially offsetting an increase in August (+34,000; +2.2%). Since the recent high in January 2023, employment in this industry has declined by 3.4% (-55,000).

In September, the number of people working in information, culture and recreation fell by 1.4% (-12,000), the second decrease in three months.

There was little change in employment in health care and social assistance in September. While year-over-year employment rose 2.5% (+66,000) in this industry, this growth was comparable to the average pace of growth observed across all industries over the year (+2.8%). According to the latest data from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, unfilled positions in healthcare and social assistance remain high, accounting for 1 in 5 (19.9%) job vacancies.

Chart 3 
Services-producing industries lead employment growth year-over-year in September

Chart 3: Services-producing industries lead employment growth year-over-year in September

Employment up across several provinces in September

In Quebec, employment increased by 39,000 (+0.9%) in September, following little overall change in the previous seven months. The unemployment rate (4.4%) was little changed from the previous month. With employment growth (+0.9%) outpacing growth in the working-age population (+0.2%), the employment rate grew 0.4 percentage points to 62.3% in September.

Employment increased by 26,000 (+0.9%) in British Columbia, the second consecutive monthly gain for the province. At 5.4%, the unemployment rate in September was little changed from August, while the employment rate increased to 61.9% (+0.4 percentage points).

Employment declined by 38,000 (-1.5%) in Alberta in September, offsetting cumulative gains of 30,000 in the previous two months. The unemployment rate remained at 5.7% as the labour force participation rate fell 1.3 percentage points to 68.4%.

Employment increased in Manitoba (+8,800; +1.3%), Saskatchewan (+6,000; +1.0%), Nova Scotia (+3,200; +0.7%) and Prince Edward Island (+2,700; +3.0%) in September, while it declined in New Brunswick (-2,700; -0.7%).

Quarterly update for the territories

In the third quarter, the employment rates in Yukon (70.5%) and Nunavut (55.3%) were both little changed from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the employment rate in the Northwest Territories (69.2%) was down 1.3 percentage points from the second to the third quarter. In September, Yellowknife and other communities in the Northwest Territories were evacuated as a result of severe wildfires.

In the Spotlight: Unemployment rate increases for core-aged South Asian and Black Canadians over the past year

Canada’s labour force continues to become increasingly diverse. In September 2023, racialized groups comprised 29.9% of the labour force, up from 28.5% a year earlier (not seasonally adjusted, three-month moving averages). South Asian, Chinese, and Black populations together accounted for 18.0% of Canada’s labour force in the month.

As the tightness of the labour market has eased over the spring and summer, the unemployment rate has increased, after hovering near record lows in the second half of 2022 and in early 2023. In September, the unemployment rate for core-aged persons (aged 25 to 54) in Canada was 4.9%, up 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier. However, increases in the unemployment rates of many racialized groups have been larger.

The unemployment rate of core-aged South Asian Canadians was 6.4% in September, up 1.4 percentage points from the same month in 2022. The increase was driven by an increase in the unemployment rate of core-aged South Asian women, which rose 2.1 percentage points to 8.2% over the same period (not seasonally adjusted, three-month moving averages).

The unemployment rate for core-aged Chinese Canadians was 5.4% in September 2023, little changed from 12 months earlier. It was 4.5% for Chinese men and 6.2% for Chinese women.

In September, the unemployment rate among Black Canadians aged 25 to 54 was 7.9%, up 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier. In the 12 months to September, this was largely driven by an increase in the unemployment rate of Black women, which rose 2.5 percentage points to 9.4%.

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