Labour Force Survey Analysis –  August 2016

Energy and public service sectors drive modest employment gains in August

Canadian Labour Market

After two months of decline, the Canadian economy started to create jobs again in August, adding 26,200 net new positions - mostly in the energy sector and the public service. However, this modest growth (less than 0.1 per cent) was not enough to offset July's losses and employment levels across Canada remain below late-spring levels. Through eight months, employment in 2016 is just 0.6 per cent higher compared to the same period last year.

Employment in Canada

Although there was an increase in overall jobs numbers in August, it was not enough to prevent an increase in the unemployment rate. The jobless rate ticked up one tenth of a percentage point to 7.0 per cent, as more Canadians began looking for work in August.

Mfg employment

While there were not many new jobs created in August, there was some good news in terms of the nature of those positions. There were 52,200 net new full-time jobs created last month, more than offsetting decline of 26,000 part-time positions.

full-time job growth

At the provincial level the story was mixed, with four provinces adding jobs and six posting losses. The largest growth was in Quebec, where there were 21,900 net new jobs, representing a solid increase of 0.5 per cent. Ontario created the next most jobs in August (10,500), but that was only enough to regain one quarter of the jobs lost in that province over the last two months. There were also jobs gains in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador in August.

BC and New Brunswick posted the largest job losses in August. In both cases however, the declines represented a climb-down from unusually large employment spikes in July. In spite of the loss of 6,600 positions last month, BC remains far and away Canada's leader in jobs growth in 2016. Through eight months, employment is up 3.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.

At the industry level, the story was once again about the public service. There was a sharp drop in public sector jobs in July, tied to the completion of the 2016 Census. Last month, however, most of those jobs were regained, as government employment jumped in both Quebec and Alberta. There were also notable increases in wholesale and retail trade, as well as a modest, but welcome, recovery in construction activity as public infrastructure projects got underway. Meanwhile, there was a sharp decline in professional, scientific and technical services employment (23,100 jobs), as well as business and other support services (8,800).

employment by sector

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

For the second month in a row, there was a modest increase in manufacturing employment in Canada. Manufacturers added 2,900 net new jobs in August, building on the increase of 5,600 in July. However, these increases come after a mostly disappointing first half of the year in 2016. At 1.69 million total jobs, employment in the sector remains well below the 1.73 million mark seen in February.

Mfg employment

August's increase in manufacturing employment was concentrated in Canada's easternmost and westernmost provinces. In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment jumped by 20 per cent (1,700 positions), helping to erase the memory of a similarly large drop in July. BC also added 1,700 new manufacturing positions last month as the province continues its slow climb out of a late-spring lull. There were also solid gains in Manitoba and Saskatchewan last month.

MFg employment growth

In Canada's manufacturing centres in Ontario and Quebec, employment numbers were down. Ontario lost 5,000 manufacturing jobs in August, while there were 2,000 fewer positions in Quebec.

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