Labour Force Survey Analysis –  November 2016

Flat employment confirms 2016 to be another poor year for job creation in Canada

Canadian Labour Market

The Canadian economy managed to extend its job-creating streak to four months, squeaking out a modest 10,700 net new positions in November. While more employment is better than less, these additional new jobs amount to little more than a rounding error relative to the size of the overall labour market. November's increase represents growth of 0.06 per cent compared to the previous month.

Employment in Canada

With only one month to go in 2016, it is now a certainty that this will mark the third consecutive year of below-one-percent employment growth in Canada. Except for the 2009 recession, Canada has not had a single year of such poor job growth since 1993, never mind three in a row.

worst years for job creation

In spite of the very small job gains last month, the national unemployment rate dropped from 7.0 per cent to 6.8 per cent. The decline was driven by a reduction in the size of the labour force; about 160,000 Canadians either retired or gave up looking for work in November.

Adding to the bad news, last month's employment gains were once again driven entirely by growth in the number of part-time jobs. In total, there were 19,400 net new part-time jobs created across the country in November, while there were 8,700 fewer full-time positions. Since May, Canada has lost 68,100 full-time jobs, while more than 184,000 part-time jobs have been created.

part-time jobs

November's job gains were concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Ontario employment was up for the fourth month in a row, with the province adding 18,900 new jobs last month (0.3 per cent growth). Since July, there have 71,000 new jobs created in Ontario. Quebec is enjoying a similar streak. With 8,500 new jobs in November, the province has seen employment jump by 71,900 positions in the last four months. Employment was also higher in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and PEI.
Meanwhile, both Alberta and BC posted significant job losses in November. In Alberta, employment fell by close to 13,000 positions, wiping out October's gains. Annual employment growth in that province is currently sitting at -1.6 per cent through November. The story was much the same in BC. The loss of 9,300 jobs in that province offset most of the 14,900 jobs created the previous month. Unlike Alberta, however, BC is still on pace to record Canada's strongest employment growth in 2016, with year-to-date employment up 3.0 per cent compared to the first 11 months of 2015.

employment growth by sector

At the industry level, November saw a large increase in the number of service-sector jobs, countering losses on the goods side. Led by finance, insurance and real estate (13,600 net new jobs), and information, culture and food services (12,700 positions), services sector industries added 31,200 new jobs in November. Meanwhile, there were 20,600 fewer jobs in goods-producing industries. Construction (-14,400) and manufacturing (-11,900) were especially hard-hit.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

After rising slowly through the summer months, manufacturing employment has begun to slide once again. The loss of 11,900 jobs last month added to the 7,500 jobs lost in October, bringing total sector employment down to about 1.68 million. That total represents the lowest level of manufacturing employment in Canada in at least 30 years (the current data series maintained by Statistics Canada only goes back to 1987). After starting the year strongly, manufacturing employment is now poised to fall by about 0.9 per cent in 2016.

manufacturing employment in Canada

Most provinces saw manufacturing employment decline in November. The only provinces to eke out gains were Saskatchewan, BC and PEI. Of those three, the largest increase was in Saskatchewan (700 net new jobs), while the fastest growth was in PEI (8.6 per cent higher than in October).

Mfg employment growth Nov

Although there were declines in manufacturing employment in the other seven provinces, losses were not severe in any one location. New Brunswick, where manufacturing employment is volatile at the best of times, saw job losses in the range of 1,500 positions (a 4.8 per cent decline). Meanwhile, Ontario and Quebec both lost about 3,000 jobs each.

For 2016 to date, however, Alberta stands alone in its struggles to maintain manufacturing employment. The province has lost close to 17 per cent of its manufacturing jobs so far this year (23,700 jobs) - dwarfing the increase or decrease in any other province. For its part, Ontario is on pace to add about 9,300 net new manufacturing jobs this year, while Nova Scotia and PEI are also poised to see significant year-over-year gains.

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