Eye on Employment: March 2018 Edition

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

The Eye on Employment is NWPB’s monthly breakdown of the latest data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. In this document, we will provide you with a summary of changes in local labour market indicators, provide comparisons to historical benchmarks, and show how seasonality affects employment in Niagara.

 First, a foreword on our source: Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey or LFS. The LFS is a robust tool that provides us with a considerable amount of data. At its core, however, it exists to sort Canadians into one of three groups: people who are employed, people who are not employed but looking for work, and people who are not in the labour force. This is a people-focused survey. And the important thing to remember is that a count of people is not a count of jobs. People might do a job, either for an employer or through self-employment, but the LFS is counting the people, not the job. Bearing this in mind, let’s turn our eye toward employment.

Monthly and Yearly Overview

Table 1: Niagara – Current and Historical Trends – Seasonally Unadjusted

Month-over-month we can see 1,400 fewer people either working or looking for work. There were 2,300 fewer people working full-time between January ’18 and February ’18, and 1,200 more people working part-time. The change in full-time employment might seem significant, however it is a considerably smaller shift than what we observed in Jan-Feb 2017; therein, full-time employment decreased by 6,000 people. February's unemployment rate was down 0.2%, the participation rate was down 0.5% and the employment rate was down 0.3%. Ideally, we want to see falling unemployment rates paired with increases in the employment and participation rate as that would mean more people are working while fewer people are looking for work.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the data in Table 1 are seasonally unadjusted figures. That means factors like holidays, expected employment slowdowns due to weather, and other factors that can be reasonably be predicted to influence employment are not accounted for in these data. Table 2, however, shows what the labour force looks like when we adjust for seasonality.

Table 2: Niagara – Current and Historical Trends – Seasonally Adjusted

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show 1,400 more people employed in Niagara. February's unemployment rate decreased by 0.7%, and the employment rate increased by 0.4%. This raises one obvious question: which of these data is correct, the adjusted or the unadjusted?

The answer is that both are equally valid. Both measures are essential tools to understanding labour force trends in Niagara. Our takeaway from comparing the two, given that the adjusted data show an increase of 1,400 employed individuals and the unadjusted data show an decrease of 1,000, should be that seasonality had a measurable and significant impact on Niagara in February of 2018.

The Youth Lens

LFS data also allows us a snapshot of youth (defined as people age 15 to 24) employment in Niagara. Once again these data do not account for seasonality.

Table 3: Niagara – Current and Historical Trends – Youth Age 15 to 24 – Seasonally Adjusted

Here we see 1,500 fewer youth working in February compared to January. There were 1,800 fewer youth working in a full-time capacity, and 400 more youth working in a part-time capacity. The youth unemployment rate decreased by 0.4% while the youth employment rate fell by 3.4%.

Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Reach out to Mario De Divitiis (mario@niagaraworkforceboard).