52,000 Manufacturing Jobs Lost Since January

Today’s Labour Force Survey indicates that Canada lost 28,000 paid positions in April and that more people are unemployed. But Statistics Canada’s release began as follows:

Estimates from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS) showed little overall change in employment in April. This follows strong employment gains since September 2006. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at an historic 33-year low of 6.1% in April.

I am hugely respectful, and even admiring, of Statistics Canada’s excellent work and usually neutral presentation. However, this introduction is slanted at best. It characterizes the loss of 28,000 jobs as “little overall change in employment” and then emphasizes jobs created months ago. Rather than mentioning increased unemployment, a reduced participation rate or a reduced employment rate, Statistics Canada continues to trumpet the “historic 33-year low” unemployment rate.

My assessment of the Survey follows:

Paid Employment Down

Canada lost 28,000 paid positions in April. Largely in response to this lack of jobs, 23,000 more people became self-employed. As a result, the official statistics suggest that “employment” declined by only 5,000.

This net decline reflected the loss of 15,000 full-time positions (paid and self-employed) and a gain of 10,000 part-time positions (paid and self-employed).

Full-time, paid employment became much harder to find in April.

Manufacturing Crisis Deepens

This decline in paid employment was concentrated in manufacturing. Canada lost 19,000 manufacturing jobs in April.

This sharp, one-month decline follows a huge decline of 35,000 in manufacturing employment in February and a slight recovery of 2,000 in March. Overall, the country has lost 52,000 manufacturing jobs since January.

Bank economists attempted to downplay the 35,000 jobs lost in February as a temporary consequence of the CN labour dispute. Since then, manufacturing employment has declined further rather than recovering.

Manufacturing Employment by Province

In April, Ontario lost 13,300 jobs; Quebec lost 9,600 jobs; British Columbia lost 3,400 jobs; Manitoba lost 1,300 jobs; Alberta lost 1,000 jobs; Prince Edward Island gained 200 jobs; Saskatchewan gained 700 jobs; New Brunswick gained 1,100 jobs; Nova Scotia gained 1,200 jobs; and Newfoundland and Labrador gained 2,600 jobs.


The number of Canadians officially classified as unemployed rose by 3,000 in April.

Nevertheless, the unemployment rate remained at “an historic 33-year low” because the participation rate declined. In other words, more Canadians have given up looking for work. Tellingly, the overall employment rate declined.

One comment

  • I once kept an up-to-date unemployment series using a 5 year and 3 year average of the particpation rate to calculate the size of the labour force from the 15-64 population. Perhaps the CLC should do this as a matter of course.

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