Quebec sees record-low unemployment rate in February: Labour Force Survey

Shelby Thevenot
Published: March 9, 2020

Quebec employment rates have been on an upswing over the past three months, and in February, about 66,000 people got jobs in the province.

As a result of these gains, Quebec saw a historically low unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent last month. This is the lowest since comparable Statistics Canada data became available in 1976.

Most of the jobs went to youth aged 15 to 24. The unemployment rate for this age group declined to 6.8 per cent, which is also the lowest rate since 1976.

The employment rate, as defined by Statistics Canada, is the number of employed people over the age of 15 as a percentage of the population. The rate for a particular group is the number of people employed as a percentage of the population of that group, for example, youth aged 15 to 24.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labour force, both employed and unemployed.

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What does the low unemployment rate mean for immigrants?

Low unemployment rates are good for job seekers because it means that there are more jobs available to choose from. Employers are under pressure to attract and retain talent. This is why periods of low unemployment can be considered a "job-seekers market."

In the next 10 years, as over nine million baby boomers retire from their jobs, Canada is going to see more and more labour shortages. With not enough young people entering the workforce, Canada is turning to immigration to help support labour market needs.

In his first major speech as Canada's immigration minister last week, Marco Mendicino estimated that about 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth will come from immigration, and may reach 100 per cent by the 2030s. The majority of these are expected to be economic-class immigrants, in other words, foreigners moving to Canada for work.

Employment in other Canadian provinces

Employment increases were also seen in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. The rest of the country was little changed.

Alberta saw 11,000 jobs filled last month, mostly among youth. Unemployment was little changed at 7.2 per cent. Compared to last year, employment in Alberta was virtually unchanged.

On Canada’s east coast, Nova Scotia employment rose by 3,700. The unemployment rate increased by 0.4 per cent to 7.8 per cent. Employment in Nova Scotia was little changed compared to 12 months earlier.

Though the unemployment rate in Manitoba was virtually unchanged at five per cent, about 3,200 more people were employed in February. Manitoba has been seeing an employment uptrend since December. Since last year employment has gone up 1.5 per cent in this Canadian Prairie Province.

New Brunswick’s employment rate was unchanged last month, and unemployment fell to 6.9 per cent.

In British Columbia (B.C.) and Ontario, the unemployment rate rose as more people searched for work. B.C. had an unemployment rate of five per cent, and Ontario saw unemployment at 5.5 per cent in February.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) saw a slight employment rate increase and a larger unemployment rate increase, up 0.5 percentage points to 8 per cent.

Newfoundland and Labrador was relatively unchanged between January and February. Both employment and unemployment went up slightly. The unemployment rate is now 12 per cent.

Unemployment in Saskatchewan went up slightly to 6.2 percent, however, the employment rate remained the same.

Global economic uncertainty may affect coming labour force

In recent weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has increased economic uncertainty in Canada and abroad.

Last week, the Bank of Canada cut its overnight interest rate to help stem potential impacts to Canada's economy.

Global oil prices have also crashed due to a price war between major suppliers such as Saudi Arabia which is also likely to have a negative impact on Canada's economy, particularly in oil-rich provinces such as Alberta.

These factors may result in weaker employment numbers in Canada in the coming months.

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