Eye on Employment: January 2019 Edition

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

Eye on Employment: January 2019 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 (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 are 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 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 2017 Oct 2018 Nov 2018 Dec 2018
Labour force 209,900 211,400 211,400 219,100 215,700 215,400
Employment 197,400 198,500 197,600 204,700 202,600 201,800
Full-time employment 153,500 152,700 153,300 158,300 156,000 155,400
Part-time employment 43,900 45,800 44,400 46,500 46,600 46,400
Unemployment 12,500 12,900 13,800 14,300 13,100 13,600
Unemployment rate 6.0% 6.1% 6.5% 6.5% 6.1% 6.3%
Participation rate 60.1% 60.5% 60.7% 62.0% 60.9% 60.8%
Employment rate 56.5% 56.8% 56.8% 57.9% 57.2% 57.0%

Month-over-month, we can see 300 fewer people either working or looking for work (a decrease in the labour force) between November and December 2018. There were 600 fewer people in full-time employment and 200 fewer people in part-time employment in December 2018 compared to November 2018. Compared to this time last year, December 2018 reports 3,300 more people with employment than was observed in December 2017. This change can be attributed more to increases in full-time employment than part-time employment. Specifically, December 2018 saw 2,700 more people employed in a full-time capacity than were observed in December 2017. With respect to part-time employment, there were 600 more people employed in a part-time capacity in December 2018 than in December 2017.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 6.1% in November to 6.3% in December. This increase occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate decreasing from 57.2% to 57.0%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate decreased slightly from 60.9% to 60.8%. In an ideal state of affairs, decreases in the unemployment rate would also be met with increases in the participation and employment rate.

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 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 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 2017 Oct 2018 Nov 2018 Dec 2018
Labour force 208,900 210,400 211,400 216,000 214,600 214,600
Employment 194,300 196,200 197,600 200,300 199,500 199,600
Unemployment 14,700 14,200 13,800 15,700 15,100 14,900
Unemployment rate 7.0% 6.7% 6.5% 7.3% 7.0% 6.9%
Participation rate 59.8% 60.2% 60.7% 61.1% 60.6% 60.6%
Employment rate 55.6% 56.1% 56.8% 56.6% 56.4% 56.3%

Here, the month-over-month comparisons show slightly different trends compared to the unadjusted figures. Table 2 shows that there were 100 more people employed in Niagara between November and December. The unemployment rate decreased from 7.0% to 6.9% in December, and the employment rate decreased from 56.4% to 56.3%. The participation rate stayed at 60.6% between November and December.

Given some of the differences between the adjusted and unadjusted datasets, one might ask which of these figures is correct and/or should be used when reporting these statistics.

The answer is that both are equally valid. Both measures are essential tools to understanding labour force trends in Niagara. In this case, we can observe that total employment is lower when adjusting for seasonality compared to the unadjusted figure seen in Table 1. These data would then suggest that when compensating for predictable and seasonable factors, we would see higher unemployment rates and less overall employment. The unadjusted data, however, is showing lower unemployment rates and more people working. One can then infer from these data that there is a non-seasonal strength to the local employment patterns, despite the trends observed over the last three months.

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 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 2017 Oct 2018 Nov 2018 Dec 2018
Labour force 29,600 28,200 31,100 34,900 34,100 36,000
Employment 27,500 25,500 28,100 30,800 30,300 31,800
Full-time employment 14,000 12,700 13,200 18,700 17,600 18,200
Part-time employment 13,500 12,800 14,900 12,200 12,800 13,600
Unemployment 2,100 2,700 3,000 4,100 3,800 4,200
Unemployment rate 7.1% 9.6% 9.6% 11.7% 11.1% 11.7%
Participation rate 69.6% 67.1% 69.3% 68.2% 63.4% 64.7%
Employment rate 64.7% 60.7% 62.6% 60.2% 56.3% 57.2%

Here we see 1,500 more youth working in December compared to November. There were 600 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and the number of youth working in a part-time capacity increased by 800 (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). December saw the youth unemployment rate increase from 11.1% back to 11.7% (the same rate seen in October 2018), and the participation rate increased from 63.4% to 64.7%. Similarly, the employment rate increased from 56.3% to 57.2%. These data suggest that youth are actively looking for work.

We now offer the Eye on Employment in a downloadable PDF format. You can download the PDF by clicking this link.

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