Eye on Employment: August 2018 Edition

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Eye on Employment: August 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 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

Labour force characteristics Jun-17 July-17 2017 May-18 Jun-18 July-18
Labour force 213,000 217,100 211,400 215,600 217,900 221,300
Employment 198,800 204,600 197,600 200,900 204,400 206,100
Full-time employment 155,500 160,800 153,300 148,500 151,900 156,500
Part-time employment 43,300 43,800 44,400 52,400 52,400 49,600
Unemployment 14,200 12,500 13,800 14,800 13,500 15,300
Unemployment rate 6.7% 5.8% 6.5% 6.9% 6.2% 6.9%
Participation rate 61.3% 62.4% 60.7% 61.3% 61.9% 62.8%
Employment rate 57.2% 58.8% 56.8% 57.2% 58.1% 58.5%

Month-over-month we can see 3,400 more people either working or looking for work (an increase in the labour force). There were 4,600 more people working full-time employment in July 2018 compared to June 2018, with a decrease of 2,800 individuals working in a part-time capacity. Compared to this time last year, July 2018 reports 1,500 more people employed. However, this overall increase may be influenced by differences in part-time employment. Even though there was a decrease in part-time employment between June and July 2018, year-over-year differences indicate that there were 5,800 more people in part-time employment in July 2018 compared to July 2017. In terms of full-time employment, July 2018 saw 4,300 fewer people in full-time employment than July of 2017.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased to 6.9% in July from 6.2% in June alongside increases in the participation and employment rates. The participation rate increased from 61.9% to 62.8%, and the employment rate grew from 58.1% in June to 58.5% in July. Taken together, increases in the participation rate (i.e., the ratio of people over the age of 15 working or looking for work) and increases in the employment rate mean there are more people working in Niagara. However, the increase in the unemployment rate also suggests more people who are looking for work but have not yet found it. 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 Jun-17 July-17 2017 May-18 Jun-18 July-18
Labour force 213,500 213,700 211,400 217,400 217,600 217,800
Employment 198,600 199,900 197,600 203,800 203,900 202,500
Unemployment 14,800 13,900 13,800 13,600 13,700 15,300
Unemployment rate 6.9% 6.5% 6.5% 6.3% 6.3% 7.0%
Participation rate 61.4% 61.4% 60.7% 61.8% 61.8% 61.8%
Employment rate 57.2% 57.5% 56.8% 58.0% 57.9% 57.5%

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show some inconsistent trends from the unadjusted figures. Table 2 shows that there were 1,400 fewer people employed in Niagara between June and July 2018. The unemployment rate increased from 6.3% in June to 7.0% in July 2018, and the employment rate slightly decreased from 57.9% to 57.5% while the participation rate remained stable. With the adjusted data showing an employment loss of 1,400 employed individuals between June and July, 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. 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 local employment indicators. When we control for those seasonal factors, we see a labour market where fewer people are working and more people are looking for work.

The Youth Lens

LFS data also allow 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

Labour force characteristics Jun-17 July-17 2017 May-18 Jun-18 July-18
Labour force 32,800 35,800 31,100 33,900 35,400 39,500
Employment 29,000 32,800 28,100 29,200 30,900 33,800
Full-time employment 12,500 16,300 13,200 11,800 14,000 18,100
Part-time employment 16,500 16,500 14,900 17,400 16,900 15,700
Unemployment 3,800 3,100 3,000 4,700 4,500 5,700
Unemployment rate 11.6% 8.7% 9.6% 13.9% 12.7% 14.4%
Participation rate 72.4% 78.9% 69.3% 70.8% 72.5% 78.2%
Employment rate 64.0% 72.2% 62.6% 61.0% 63.3% 66.9%

Here we see 2,900 more youth working in July compared to June. There were 4,100 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and 1,200 fewer youth working in a part-time capacity.

The youth unemployment rate increased by 1.7%, the participation rate grew substantially with a 5.7% increase, and the youth employment rate also increased by 3.6%. These data continue to suggest a surge in youth employment – especially in full-time employment – balanced against a considerable increase in youth who are actively looking for work.

 Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Reach out to Adam Durrant, NWPB’s Operations Manager (adam@niagaraworkforceboard.ca).