Eye on Employment: March 2019 Edition

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

Eye on Employment: March 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 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 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 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 2018 Dec 2018 Jan 2019 Feb 2019
Labour force 209,900 208,500 215,800 215,400 213,000 212,200
Employment 197,800 196,800 201,700 201,800 199,100 197,400
Full-time employment 151,500 149,200 153,100 155,400 154,000 153,200
Part-time employment 46,300 47,500 48,600 46,400 45,100 44,100
Unemployment 12,200 11,700 14,200 13,600 13,900 14,800
Unemployment rate 5.8% 5.6% 6.6% 6.3% 6.5% 7.0%
Participation rate 60.0% 59.5% 61.2% 60.8% 60.1% 59.8%
Employment rate 56.5% 56.2% 57.2% 57.0% 56.1% 55.6%

Month-over-month, we can see 800 fewer people either working or looking for work (a decrease in the labour force) between January 2019 and February 2019. There were 800 fewer people in full-time employment and 1000 fewer people in part-time employment in February compared to January. Compared to this time last year, February 2019 reports 600 more people with employment than was observed in February 2018. This change was largely attributed to increases in full-time employment. Specifically, February 2019 saw 4,000 more people employed in a full-time capacity than was observed in February 2018. With respect to part-time employment, there were 3,400 fewer people employed in a part-time capacity in February 2019 than in February 2018.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 6.5% in January 2019 to 7.0% in February 2019. This increase occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate decreasing from 56.1% to 55.6%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate decreased slightly from 60.1% to 59.8%. In an ideal state of affairs, we would see decreases in the unemployment rate 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 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 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 2018 Dec 2018 Jan 2019 Feb 2019
Labour force 212,000 211,900 215,800 214,100 214,700 215,700
Employment 199,600 200,700 201,700 199,200 200,200 201,000
Unemployment 12,400 11,200 14,200 14,900 14,500 14,700
Unemployment rate 5.8% 5.3% 6.6% 7.0% 6.8% 6.8%
Participation rate 60.6% 60.5% 61.2% 60.4% 60.5% 60.8%
Employment rate 57.1% 57.3% 57.2% 56.2% 56.4% 56.6%

Table 2 shows that there were 800 more people employed in Niagara between January and February which contrasts the decrease seen in the unadjusted data. When we look at the unemployment, participation, and employment rates, the month-over-month adjusted comparisons also show different trends compared to the unadjusted figures. The adjusted data indicate that the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.8% in February, and the employment rate increased from 56.4% to 56.6%. The participation rate similarly increased slightly from 60.5% to 60.8% between January and February.  

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, these trends would suggest that when compensating for predictable and seasonable factors (e.g. expected and historical seasonal slowdowns in Niagara’s economy) we would see a more active labour force.



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 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 2018 Dec 2018 Jan 2019 Feb 2019
Labour force 26,600 25,000 34,300 36,000 35,800 34,900
Employment 23,500 22,000 29,900 31,800 32,100 31,000
Full-time employment 11,100 9,300 15,400 18,200 18,400 17,200
Part-time employment 12,300 12,700 14,500 13,600 13,700 13,800
Unemployment 3,200 2,900 4,400 4,200 3,700 3,900
Unemployment rate 12.0% 11.6% 12.8% 11.7% 10.3% 11.2%
Participation rate 63.3% 59.8% 68.7% 64.7% 63.3% 62.9%
Employment rate 56.0% 52.6% 59.9% 57.2% 56.7% 55.9%

Here we see 1,100 fewer youth working in February compared to January. There were 1,200 fewer youth working in a full-time capacity, and the number of youth working in a part-time capacity increased by 100. February saw the youth unemployment rate increase from 10.3% to 11.2%, and the participation rate decrease from 63.3% to 62.9%. Similarly, the employment rate decreased from 56.7% to 55.9%. Compared to this time last year, February 2019 reports 7,900 more youth employed in a full-time capacity and 1,100 more youth working in a part-time capacity. While the month-over-month numbers show fewer youth working while more youth are looking for work, the overall annual trend remains a positive one.




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.