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Canada’s Job Market Recovery Continued in December but Remained Slow

On balance, the Labour Force Survey results released by Statistics Canada in January 2011 for December – the last month of 2010 – offered good news. Employment increased, the new jobs created were in the private sector, and a relatively high percentage of them were full-time jobs. Hiring demand levels that we ( monitor were relatively high compared to previous months as well – staying at about 10% above last year’s levels.

But December’s report comes on the heels of bleak news from the past couple month. Overall, the job market recovery remains disappointingly slow and unstable, especially given the magnitude of the collapse that we experienced in late 2008: The job market must grow at much faster pace if it is to recoup the momentum it lost in the past couple of years. Yet we are registering hiring demand levels (measured by number of job postings published online) at about one third below their pre-recession level, and the jobs that are being advertised are different from those that were lost.

What the December 2010 Labour Force Survey Said

There was an increase of 22,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate was 7.6 %. Compared with December 2009, employment increased by 2.2% (+369,000), following a decrease of 1.1% in the previous year.

There were employment increases in several industries: manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and natural resources. During the same period there were declines in construction, health care, social assistance, wholesale and retail trade, business building and agriculture.

Full time employment saw an increase of 38,000 in December— the fourth increase in the previous five months. Part-time employment grew faster (+3.4%) than full-time (+1.9%) over the past 12 months.81% of all employment in December was full-time.

Declines in self-employment offset increases in the private sector. This is good news as many people embark on so-called”self-employment” initiatives simply because they find it impossible to get employment.

Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador saw employment increases in December while British Columbia posted declines. Employment in the other provinces saw little change.

Strong Gains in manufacturing and transportation and warehousing

After a decline of 29,000 in November, manufacturing employment rose by 66,000 in December. Most of the gains were in Ontario and Quebec and were spread across a number of industries.

The transportation and warehousing sectors saw gains of 45,000 in December. Employment in this industry rose 10.8% (+85,000) compared with December of last year.

Employment in natural resources also rose by 7,700 in December.   Over the past 12 months this industry posted gains of 10.8% (+33,000).

The construction industry saw a decline of 27,000 in December, the first notable decline since June 2009. Despite this decline employment in this sector was up 4.8% over the past 12 months.

During this same period, employment in social assistance and health care fell by 24,000.However, growth in this industry totaled 3.3% (+67,000) from last year.

Wholesale and retail trade fell by 22,000 in December. Employment in this industry remained stable in 2010 at (+0.7%).

Losses of 18,000 in business, building and support services were also reported in December. Compared with December 2009 employment was up by 8.1% (+51,000).

Agriculture also saw declines of 8,000 in December. Total losses in this industry over the past year were 4.2% (13,000).

More people working in the private sector

The private sector saw increases of 53,000 in December, while self-employment fell by 38,000. The public sector saw little change.
332,000 (+3.1%) employees were added to the private sector over the past 12 months and 143,000 (+4.2%) to the public sector. The self-employed saw decreases of 106,000 (-3.9%) over the same period.

Employment gains in Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador

Quebec saw increases of 25,000 in December, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.3 percentage points to 7.6%. Overall, Quebec’s employment was up 102,000 (+2.6%) from a year earlier.

Employment rose in Ontario for the second consecutive month— up 23,000. The rate of unemployment went down slightly 0.1% to 8.1%.From a year earlier, the number of workers grew by 2.8% (+186,000) above the national growth rate of 2.2%. During all of 2009, however, employment in Ontario had gone down by 1.8%, the largest decline amongst all provinces.

In British Columbia employment fell by 23,000 in December. This pushed the unemployment rate up 0.7% points to 7.6%. Compared to December of 2009, employment in the province grew by 1.5% (35,000).

More youths working in December

Youth employment rose by 26,000 in December. A sharp contrast to November where there was a significant decline. Employment changed very little in other age groups.

Compared to the same period last year, youth employment was up 1.8% (+42,000). Since December 2009, workers aged 55 and over saw their numbers increase by 6.6% (+186,000). This was partly due to the fact that their numbers increased by 3.3% during that period. This age group accounts for 50% of the employment growth over the past 12 months while making up less than one third of the working population.

Employment also rose for the group aged 25 to 54. They grew by 1.2% (+141,000). This change was primarily driven by men (+2.3%) compared with little growth for women (+0.1%).

The full report can be found here: