Employment Picture Improves

Today’s Labour Force Survey paints an appreciably improved picture of Canada’s job market. In February, full-time employment rose by 60,000 and part-time employment fell by 39,000. Employers are not only hiring more workers, but also upgrading part-time positions to full-time positions. Almost all of the part-time jobs created in January became full-time jobs in February.

Importantly, this employment gain reflected additional paid positions as opposed to more self-reported self-employment. In fact, self-employment decreased by 17,000 as the number of employees increased by 38,000.

Despite impressive employment numbers, unemployment remains high. While total employment rose by 21,000, unemployment fell by only half as much (12,000) as the labour force expanded. In total, more than 1.5 million Canadians remain officially unemployed.

Sectoral Breakdown

The public sector drove all of February’s job creation, more than offsetting a small decline in private-sector jobs. However, within the private sector, employment rose in manufacturing and resource extraction. The overall loss of private-sector employment was led by construction and service industries, especially trade, finance and real estate.

Increased employment in government, manufacturing and resources is consistent with the latest Gross Domestic Product figures, which reflected economic growth driven by government stimulus and the beginnings of an industrial recovery.

Fewer jobs in construction and real estate may suggest a slowdown of the recent housing boom. However, one month does not make a trend.

Alberta Bucks National Improvement

Partially offsetting gains in other provinces, Alberta lost 15,000 jobs in February. Alberta’s unemployment rate jumped 0.3% (from 6.6% to 6.9%). By contrast, the unemployment rate declined by 0.4% in both neighbouring provinces: BC and Saskatchewan.

UPDATE (March 13): Quoted by Canadian Press, CBC, The Toronto Star and The Hamilton Spectator


  • If private sector employment declined, and public sector employment which improved is under attack in virtually every jurisdiction, how can these numbers be indicative of recovery? The front page piece in the Globe would us believe all the arrows are pointing in the right direction. Hard to see it from this.

  • the trend since the recession started has been drops in private and increases mainly from public. There still has not been a consistent private sector employment growth period since the recession hit. Until I see 3-4 months of employment growth in the private sector, these arrows are not pointing up.

    In fact the qualitative is seemingly looking much more negative in terms of public sector cuts, and at the provincial level it has been at play for at least the last 6 months.

    3-4 months from now we should have a much clearer picture of where we are in terms of trends- if any, and then you will see the public sector declines- unless we have an election and things change by then.

    – and take out the stimulus money from both the US and Canadian economies and another arrow starts pointing down.

    – about the only surprise right now is China, we are actually seeing some growth there, but again it seems stimulus related.

  • I would like to qualify that last statement on China, according to an article in Bloomberg and elsewhere- a lot of this growth is attributable to stimulus spending that is about to come to an end. With a raise in their rates, and stimulus coming to an end, not sure how long this one arrow will continue to be pointing up.

    However it is quite a large arrow, for sure.

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