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 1,900 more people either working or looking for work. There were 1,300 fewer people working full-time between March 2018 and April 2018, and 2,900 more people working part-time. The decline in full-time employment is noteworthy, particularly considering we observed an increase of 1,400 people in full-time employment between March-April 2017. In terms of part-time employment, March-April 2018 saw an increase of 2,900 employed individuals compared to a decrease of 1,400 people working part-time in Machr-April 2017. In other words, the employment gains that Niagara enjoyed in April 2018 can largely be attributed to part-time employment.
Niagara’s unemployment rate in April was up 0.1% over last month. The local labour market participation rate was up by 0.5%, and the employment rate was up 0.5%. 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. This increase in the unemployment rate paired with growth in the participation and employment rates is generally indicative of an increase in people who are actively 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 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 900 more people employed in Niagara between March and April, 2018. The unemployment rate increased by 0.2%, and the employment rate increased by 0.4%. With the adjusted data showing an employment gain of 900 and the unadjusted data reflecting 1,700 more people working, one might be tempted to ask which of these data is correct.
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 should be that even when we account for seasonal factors impacting the labour force, we continue to see a net-gain in Niagara’s employment.
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 Unadjusted
Here we see 2,200 more youth working in April compared to March. There were 500 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and 1,800 more youth working in a part-time capacity. Note here that Statistics Canada rounds its figures to the nearest hundred, which is why gains of 1,800 and 500 add to 2,200. Round numbers can sometimes lead to outcomes that defy conventional understandings of arithmetic. This eccentricity should not suggest any specific problem on the part of the data.
The youth unemployment rate declined by 0.7%, the participation rate continued to grow with a 1.6% increase. The youth employment rate also increased by 1.9%. These data continue a trend observed in March and continue to suggest a surge in youth employment and youth searching for work. Astute readers will also note that April of 2018 shows more youth in the labour market and employed, in both a full-time and part-time capacity, than was reported in April 2017. Within the context of Niagara’s overall month-over-month labour market changes, these data would suggest that the youth cohort was a significant driver of April’s employment.
Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Reach out to Mario De Divitiis (mario@niagaraworkforceboard).