Eye on Employment: September 2018 Edition

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Eye on Employment: September 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 July 2017 Aug 2017 2017 June 2018 July 2018 Aug 2018
Labour force 217,100 217,800 211,400 217,900 221,300 221,600
Employment 204,600 204,900 197,600 204,400 206,100 205,400
Full-time employment 160,800 163,300 153,300 151,900 156,500 157,000
Part-time employment 43,800 41,600 44,400 52,400 49,600 48,400
Unemployment 12,500 12,900 13,800 13,500 15,300 16,200
Unemployment rate 5.8% 5.9% 6.5% 6.2% 6.9% 7.3%
Participation rate 62.4% 62.6% 60.7% 61.9% 62.8% 62.8%
Employment rate 58.8% 58.8% 56.8% 58.1% 58.5% 58.2%

Month-over-month we can see 300 more people either working or looking for work (an increase in the labour force) between July and August 2018. There were 500 more people in full-time employment in August 2018 compared to July 2018, with a decrease of 1,200 individuals working in a part-time capacity. Compared to this time last year, August 2018 reports 500 more people employed. However, this overall increase is driven by considerable changes in full-time and part-time employment between August 2017 and August 2018. Specifically, August 2018 saw 6,300 fewer people employed in a full-time capacity and 6,800 more people employed in a part-time capacity than in August 2017.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 6.9% in July to 7.3% in August. This increase occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate decreasing from 58.5% to 58.2%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate remained unchanged at 62.8%. When viewed through a historical lens, these figures are likely indicative of Niagara’s summer seasonal labour market approaching its peak.

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 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 July 2017 Aug 2017 2017 June 2018 July 2018 Aug 2018
Labour force 213,700 213,300 211,400 217,600 217,800 217,100
Employment 199,900 199,300 197,600 203,900 202,500 201,000
Unemployment 13,900 14,000 13,800 13,700 15,300 16,100
Unemployment rate 6.5% 6.6% 6.5% 6.3% 7.0% 7.4%
Participation rate 61.4% 61.3% 60.7% 61.8% 61.8% 61.5%
Employment rate 57.5% 57.2% 56.8% 57.9% 57.5% 57.0%

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show similar trends compared to the unadjusted figures. Table 2 shows that there were 1,500 fewer people employed in Niagara between July and August 2018. The unemployment rate increased from 7.0% in July to 7.4% in August 2018, and the employment rate decreased from 57.5% to 57.0%. The participation rate also decreased from 61.8% in July 2018 to 61.5% in August 2018.

With the unadjusted data showing a decrease of 700 employed individuals between July and August, and the adjusted data reflecting 1,500 fewer 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. In this case, we can see the effect of those seasonal factors as something that is giving a boost to the local labour market, despite the declining numbers. In the absence of these seasonal factors, the seasonally adjusted data tell us that we would expect to see steeper decreases in labour market engagement.



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 July 2017 Aug 2017 2017 June 2018 July 2018 Aug 2018
Labour force 35,800 36,900 31,100 35,400 39,500 40,100
Employment 32,800 34,800 28,100 30,900 33,800 34,500
Full-time employment 16,300 19,500 13,200 14,000 18,100 20,000
Part-time employment 16,500 15,300 14,900 16,900 15,700 14,400
Unemployment 3,100 2,100 3,000 4,500 5,700 5,600
Unemployment rate 8.7% 5.7% 9.6% 12.7% 14.4% 14.0%
Participation rate 78.9% 78.5% 69.3% 72.5% 78.2% 78.2%
Employment rate 72.2% 74.0% 62.6% 63.3% 66.9% 67.3%

Here we see 700 more youth working in August compared to July. There were 1,900 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and 1,300 fewer youth working in a part-time capacity (note here that Statistics Canada rounds to the nearest hundred; this accounts for what might present as irregular math on the part of the total employment changes). The youth unemployment rate decreased by 0.4%, while the participation rate remained unchanged at 78.2%. However, the employment rate increased from 66.9% in July to 67.3% in August. These are positive indicators that show a youth labour force that is actively looking for work and successfully finding it.

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