Eye on Employment: July 2018 Edition

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

Eye on Employment: July 2018 Edition

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 forward 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

Labour force characteristics May-17 June-17 2017 Apr-18 May-18 June-18
Labour force 210,600 213,000 211,400 211,200 215,600 217,900
Employment 195,100 198,800 197,600 197,100 200,900 204,400
Full-time employment 149,500 155,500 153,300 145,700 148,500 151,900
Part-time employment 45,500 43,300 44,400 51,300 52,400 52,400
Unemployment 15,500 14,200 13,800 14,100 14,800 13,500
Unemployment rate 7.4% 6.7% 6.5% 6.7% 6.9% 6.2%
Participation rate 60.7% 61.3% 60.7% 60.2% 61.3% 61.9%
Employment rate 56.2% 57.2% 56.8% 56.2% 57.2% 58.1%

Month-over-month we can see 2,300 more people either working or looking for work. There were 3,400 more people working full-time in June 2018 compared to May 2018, with no changes in the number of people working in a part-time capacity. Compared to this time last year, June 2018 reports 5,600 more people employed. However, this overall increase is heavily influenced by recent gains in part-time employment. Specifically, there were 9,100 more people in part-time employment in June 2018 compared to June 2017. In terms of full-time employment, June 2018 saw 3,600 fewer people in full-time employment than June of 2017.

Niagara’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.9% in May to 6.2% June alongside increases in the participation and employment rates. The participation rate increased from 61.3% to 61.9%, and the employment rate grew from 57.2% in May to 58.1% in June. This decrease 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 and successfully finding 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 or pickups 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

Seasonal Labour Force Characteristics May-17 June-17 2017 Apr-18 May-18 June-18
Labour force 213,000 213,500 211,400 215,100 217,400 217,600
Employment 198,100 198,600 197,600 202,600 203,800 203,900
Unemployment 14,800 14,800 13,800 12,500 13,600 13,700
Unemployment rate 6.9% 6.9% 6.5% 5.8% 6.3% 6.3%
Participation rate 61.4% 61.4% 60.7% 61.3% 61.8% 61.8%
Employment rate 57.1% 57.2% 56.8% 57.7% 58.0% 57.9%

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show some very consistent trends. There were 100 more people employed in Niagara between May and June 2018. The unemployment rate stayed the same at 6.3%, and the employment slightly decreased from 58.0% to 57.9%. With the adjusted data showing an employment gain of 100 and the unadjusted data reflecting 3,500 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. In this case the difference between the two figures is a strong indication that seasonal and predictable factors in the economy are having an impact on employment growth. The important note here is that even when we control for those factors (i.e. use seasonally adjusted figures) we are still seeing a consistent labour market indicators.

Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Reach out to Mario De Divitiis, NWPB’s CEO.