Labour Force Survey: Employment in Canada held steady in February 2023

Julia Hornstein
Published: March 11, 2023

According to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey, employment in Canada stayed relatively the same (+22,000; +0.1%), following two monthly increases in December 2022 and January 2023.

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The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0%, which is just shy of the record-low 4.9% that was seen in the summer of 2022. There were just over 1 million unemployed persons in Canada in February, which is essentially unchanged from January.

In addition, employment was mostly unchanged among adults aged 25 to 54 years old, or core-aged adults. There was also little change in youth employment from the previous month.

Employment in women

Employment of women between the ages of 55-64 has increased by 30,000 (+1.9%) in February. Over 6 in 10 women in the age group were employed in February, the highest proportion on record.

In February 2023, 58.9% of women aged 15 and older were employed. This number is up from 58.1% in August 2022, but lower than the record high of 59.2% reached in October 2007. Employment for women rose by 214,000 from August 2022 to February 2023, accounting for 61% of employment growth over the period.

Employment trends by industry

The professional, scientific, and technical services industry has been an important driver of employment growth, accounting for over one third of total net employment growth in the last three years. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was up 4.7% (+84,000) in February, overtaking growth across all industries (+2.1%). In addition, hourly wages of employees in the industry were up 9.6% (+$3.83 to $43.69) over the same period, the fastest growth rate across industries.

The number of people employed in health care and social assistance grew by 0.6% or 15,000 in February. On a year-by-year basis, employment in health care and social assistance was up 1.7%, or 44,000.

Employment increased in public administration (+10,000, +0.9%) was up in February. The public administration industry includes those working for federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments and was concentrated in Ontario (+7,600; +1.7%) and New Brunswick (+1,500; +4.3%). Compared with February 2022, a year earlier, employment in the public administration industry was up 7.7%.

Employment decreased in business, building and other support services (-11,000; -1.5%) which is the first notable decline in over a year for the industry. The decline was most concentrated in Ontario (-16,000, -5.3%).

Employment remained mostly the same in wholesale and retail trade and construction.

Employment trends by province and territory

Employment rose in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, and declined in Nova Scotia.

In Prince Edward Island, employment grew by 2.0% (+1,700) in February, which is the second increase in three months. More Prince Islanders were employed full-time in February (+2,400).

In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment increased by 1.6% (+3,800), the second employment increase in three months. The unemployment rate fell 1.9 percentage points.

In New Brunswick, employment increased by 1.3% (+5,100), also the second employment increase in three months. On a year-by-year basis, employment in the province increased by almost 5%.

In Manitoba, employment increased by 0.7% (4,900) after three months of little change, driven by full-time employment.

Nova Scotia was the only province to record an employment decline (-4,700; -0.9%) in February. The unemployment rate increased 0.7 percentage points in February to 5.7%.

There was little change in employment in the other provinces.

Read the recap of the December 2022 Labour Force Survey here.

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