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An Overview of the 1998 Labour Market

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The following is a summary of the Statistics Canada report of Canada’s labour market in 1998:

* In terms of the labour market, 1998 turned out to be a better year than most people predicted. In fact, employment growth in 1998 was stronger than in any other year this decade. As a result, by the end of the year, more than 60% of the population was working, the first time since 1991 the employment rate has been that high. Hand-in-hand with job growth came a decline in the number of unemployed people, causing the unemployment rate to drop to 8.0% by year-end, the lowest since 1990.

* Employment among core-age women 25 to 54 rose the most in 1998, continuing their long-term upward trend. Youths were the second-largest source of job growth. After almost a decade of general decline, jobs for youths 15 to 24 rose strongly, with both teenagers and youths in their twenties sharing the gains.

* Workers 55 years of age and older also had strong job growth. As older people entered or stayed in the labour market to take the new jobs, their rate of labour market participation increased, following almost two decades of steady decline.

* In 1998, employment growth among core-age men was slightly weaker than in 1997. Because core-age men are more likely to work full-time, this contributed to a slow-down in full-time job growth. Still, over two-thirds of the overall increase in employment was in full-time.

* Working for oneself has become more and more popular, or necessary in the 1990’s. Self-employment growth was flat at the start of 1998, but a strong upward trend re- turned part-way through the year. Even though growth in self-employment was strongest in percentage terms in 1998, the hiring of employees in the private sector accounted for the majority of the overall increase in employment.

* For the first time in four years, the number of workers in the public sector expanded in 1998. While the number of civil servants continued to decline, workers in health and social services and educational services led the public sector increase.

* In terms of employment, the fastest growing industry in 1998 was business services. As demand for computer, engineering and other business services continued to grow, so too did employment in this industry. Much of the increase in self-employment in 1998 can be attributed to growth in business services, where about one-third own their own business.

* On the other hand, the Asian flu appears to have taken hold on jobs in “other” primary industries. As commodity prices plummeted due to reduced demand from Asia, oil patch, mining and logging employers had to cut back.

* With the exception of Prince Edward Island, employment rose across the country. In fact, employment growth in most provinces was faster than that of the population, causing employment rates to rise. In percentage terms, employment growth was fastest in New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta.

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