Employment gains in December led by Ontario and Quebec; new Labour Force Survey

CIC News
Published: January 13, 2020

Ontario and Quebec led the provinces in employment gains last month, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey.

There were 57,000 more employees in Canada’s private sector in December, which offset November’s decline of a similar size.

“Employment increased in accommodation and food services and in construction, while it was little changed in the other industries,” the report said.

Employment grew by 25,000 in the accommodation and food services industry, driven by Quebec gains.

British Columbia and Ontario contributed the most to the rise in construction, helping to add 17,000 jobs to the industry.

Between December 2018 and 2019, Canada saw 320,000 more people employed. Employment rates grew at a faster pace than what Statistics Canada observed in 2018. The growth, which was spread across the first three quarters of the year, was mostly the result of gains in full-time work with 283,000 more workers.

Canada saw a record low unemployment rate this year in May at 5.4 per cent. The unemployment rate was at 5.6 per cent last month, the same as it had been in December 2018.

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Employment gains by province


There were 25,000 more Ontarians employed in December thanks to gains in full-time work. The construction and public administration industries saw the most gains.

Compared with December 2018, employment in Ontario increased by 243,000. Statistics Canada says this is the largest year-over-year increase for the month of December since 1987.

Employment gains were largely in full-time work, with 227,000 more positions filled. Increases were felt in the professional, scientific and technical services as well as health care and social assistance. However, there were fewer Ontarians employed in manufacturing last month compared to December 2018.


In Quebec, employment increased by 21,000, which partially offset a decline in November. There were more Quebecers working in accommodation and food services as well as in manufacturing, both of which had seen decreases the month before. The unemployment rate matched that of Ontario, declining 0.3 percentage points to 5.3 per cent.

Year over year, employment in Quebec increased by 63,000 with nearly all the growth in full-time work. Gains were mostly among youth ages 15 to 24 and people over age 55.

The unemployment rate in Quebec was little changed compared to December 2018, though it had dropped to 4.7 per cent in August, a record low since comparable data became available in January 1976.


Manitoba added 2,800 more jobs to its labour force. These gains were led by more part-time work for youth ages 15 to 24. At the same time, the number of people working full-time declined.

Unemployment dropped 0.6 percentage points to five per cent between November and December.

Throughout the year the number of employed Manitobans held steady as part-time gains were offset by full-time declines.

Compared to December 2018, the unemployment rate fell one percentage point to five per cent.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island saw 1,100 more jobs in December. This is the first noticeable increase since July, Statistics Canada said. The unemployment rate in the province was little changed at 7.9 per cent.

The province ended the year with 4,600 more jobs which is the largest year-over-year increase since comparable data became available in 1976.

Employment growth was observed in several industries with construction leading the way. However, there was a decline in the natural resources industry.

Nova Scotia

In the 12 months leading up to December 2019, employment increased by 6,700 in Nova Scotia. Leading these gains was the health care and social assistance sector, as well as the manufacturing industry.

Declines were seen in information, culture and recreation.

Over half of the employment growth in the province was among youth.

The unemployment rate declined to a low of 6.2 per cent in March, but increased to 7.9 per cent in December.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick saw an increase of 5,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis. The majority of those employed were age 55 and up.

By the end of 2019, nearly a quarter of the province’s labour force was over the age of 55.

Construction and public administration were the largest contributors to employment growth since December 2018.

Accommodation and food services saw a downward trend throughout the year.

The unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage points to 7.5 per cent over the 12 months in 2019.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador saw a decline in employment by 5,900 on a year-over-year basis. Most of the decline happened in December.

Decreases in employment were observed in health care and social assistance over the past 12 months.

The unemployment rate at 11.8 per cent in December 2019 was little changed compared to the same time last year.

British Columbia

After four consecutive years of employment gains, British Columbia settled down with little change in the 12 months to December 2019.

Though it had the lowest unemployment rate of any province, it increased by 0.4 percentage points to 4.8 per cent.


Employment in Alberta was relatively unchanged on a year-over-year basis. Fewer people were observed working full-time and more were working part-time.

The unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percentage points over the year to seven per cent in December 2019.

The number of those aged 15 to 24 increased in Alberta’s labour force, but employment for this group remained stable. As a result, the youth unemployment rate rose by 3.9 percentage points to 14.7 per cent.

Both the employment level and the unemployment rate were little changed among the core-aged population of 25 to 54 year-olds.


Employment was little changed in Saskatchewan in 2019, following an increase in 2018.

Gains in the services-producing sector were offset by losses in the goods-producing sector.

Unemployment was little changed at 5.7 per cent.

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