Eye on Employment: October 2018 Edition

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Eye on Employment: October 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, offer 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 Aug 2017 Sept 2017 2017 July 2018 Aug 2018 Sept 2018
Labour force 217,800 214,500 211,400 221,300 221,600 220,800
Employment 204,900 202,200 197,600 206,100 205,400 205,100
Full-time employment 163,300 161,100 153,300 156,500 157,000 158,000
Part-time employment 41,600 41,100 44,400 49,600 48,400 47,100
Unemployment 12,900 12,300 13,800 15,300 16,200 15,700
Unemployment rate 5.9% 5.7% 6.5% 6.9% 7.3% 7.1%
Participation rate 62.6% 61.5% 60.7% 62.8% 62.8% 62.5%
Employment rate 58.8% 58.0% 56.8% 58.5% 58.2% 58.1%

Month-over-month, we can see 800 fewer people either working or looking for work (a decrease in the labour force) between August and September 2018. There were 1,000 more people in full-time employment in September 2018 compared to August 2018, with a decrease of 1,300 individuals working in a part-time capacity. Compared to this time last year, September 2018 reports 2,900 more people with employment than were observed in September 2017. However, this overall increase is driven by considerable changes in full-time and part-time employment between September 2017 and September 2018. Specifically, September 2018 saw 3,100 fewer people employed in a full-time capacity and 6,000 more people employed in a part-time capacity than in September 2017.

Niagara’s unemployment rate decreased from 7.3% in August to 7.1% in September. This decrease occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate decreasing from 58.2% to 58.1%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate fell from 62.8% to 62.5%. In an ideal state of affairs, decreases in the unemployment rate would also be met with increases in the participation and employment rate. When all three indicators fall, it is generally an indication of people leaving the labour force.

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 Aug 2017 Sept 2017 2017 July 2018 Aug 2018 Sept 2018
Labour force 213,300 211,000 211,400 217,800 217,100 217,100
Employment 199,300 197,200 197,600 202,500 201,000 200,900
Unemployment 14,000 13,800 13,800 15,300 16,100 16,200
Unemployment rate 6.6% 6.5% 6.5% 7.0% 7.4% 7.5%
Participation rate 61.3% 60.5% 60.7% 61.8% 61.5% 61.5%
Employment rate 57.2% 56.6% 56.8% 57.5% 57.0% 56.9%

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show some slightly different trends compared to the unadjusted figures. Table 2 shows that there were 100 fewer people employed in Niagara between September and August 2018. The unemployment rate increased from 7.4% in August to 7.5% in September 2018, and the employment rate decreased from 57.0% to 56.9%. The participation rate remained constant at 61.5% between August and September.

With the seasonally adjusted data showing 4,200 fewer people employed in Niagara in September compared to the unadjusted data, one might be tempted ask which one of these figures 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 factors in the economy are having an impact on local employment indicators. We can see the effect of those seasonal factors as something that is giving a boost to the local labour market. In the absence of these seasonal factors, the seasonally adjusted data tell us that we would expect to see fewer employed people in the region.

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 Aug 2017 Sept 2017 2017 July 2018 Aug 2018 Sept 2018
Labour force 36,900 34,800 31,100 39,500 40,100 37,600
Employment 34,800 33,100 28,100 33,800 34,500 32,600
Full-time employment 19,500 18,900 13,200 18,100 20,000 20,400
Part-time employment 15,300 14,200 14,900 15,700 14,400 12,200
Unemployment 2,100 1,700 3,000 5,700 5,600 5,000
Unemployment rate 5.7% 4.9% 9.6% 14.4% 14.0% 13.3%
Participation rate 78.5% 75.5% 69.3% 78.2% 78.2% 74.0%
Employment rate 74.0% 71.8% 62.6% 66.9% 67.3% 64.2%

Here we see 1,900 fewer youth working in September compared to August. There were 400 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and 2,200 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). September saw the youth unemployment rate decrease from 14.0% to 13.3%, and the participation rate fell from 78.2% to 74.0%. Similarly, the employment rate fell from 67.3% to 64.2%. Given a month-over-month decrease in the number of unemployed youth in September it is likely we are seeing the effects of youth returning to education and training in September. However, these data, particularly when compared to September 2017, suggest a large number of youth remain engaged in looking for work.

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