Eye on Employment: June 2019 Edition

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

Eye on Employment: June 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 April 2018 May 2018 2018 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019
Labour force 211,200 215,600 215,800 207,600 204,900 204,500
Employment 197,100 200,900 201,700 192,400 190,200 191,900
Full-time employment 145,700 148,500 153,100 149,500 146,600 148,200
Part-time employment 51,300 52,400 48,600 42,900 43,600 43,600
Unemployment 14,100 14,800 14,200 15,200 14,700 12,600
Unemployment rate 6.7% 6.9% 6.6% 7.3% 7.2% 6.2%
Participation rate 60.2% 61.3% 61.2% 58.4% 57.6% 57.4%
Employment rate 56.2% 57.2% 57.2% 54.1% 53.5% 53.9%

Month-over-month, we can see 400 fewer people either working or looking for work (a decrease in the labour force) between April 2019 and May 2019. There were 1,600 more people in full-time employment and an identical number of people in part-time employment in May compared to April. Compared to this time last year, May 2019 reports 9,000 fewer people with employment than was observed in May 2018. This change was largely attributed to decreases in part-time employment. Specifically, May 2019 saw only 300 fewer people employed in a full-time capacity than was observed in May 2018. With respect to part-time employment, there were 8,800 fewer people employed in May 2019 than in May 2018.

Niagara’s unemployment rate decreased from 7.2% in April 2019 to 6.2% in May 2019. This decrease occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate increasing from 53.5% to 53.9%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate decreased from 57.6% to 57.4%. In an ideal state of affairs, we would see decreases in the unemployment rate with increases in the participation and employment rates.

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

Labour Force Characteristics April 2018 May 2018 2018 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019
Labour force 215,100 217,000 215,800 213,000 210,200 207,000
Employment 202,200 203,100 201,700 199,000 196,500 195,000
Unemployment 12,900 13,900 14,200 14,000 13,700 12,100
Unemployment rate 6.0% 6.4% 6.6% 6.6% 6.5% 5.8%
Participation rate 61.3% 61.7% 61.2% 59.9% 59.1% 58.1%
Employment rate 57.6% 57.8% 57.2% 56.0% 55.2% 54.8%

Table 2 shows that there were 1,500 fewer people employed in Niagara between April 2019 and May 2019, which differs from the employment increase in the unadjusted data. When we look at the unemployment and participation rates, the month-over-month adjusted comparisons show similar trends compared to the unadjusted figures. The seasonally adjusted data indicate that the unemployment rate fell from 6.5% to 5.8%. At the same time the participation rate decreased from 59.1% to 58.1%. The employment rate, however, decreased by 0.4% when adjusting for seasonality, instead of increasing as in the unadjusted data.

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 see decreases in employment instead of increases. However, both datasets show fewer people reporting unemployment between April and May.

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 April 2018 May 2018 2018 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019
Labour force 30,600 33,900 34,300 32,900 32,100 32,200
Employment 26,600 29,200 29,900 29,200 28,000 28,200
Full-time employment 9,700 11,800 15,400 15,200 12,800 11,700
Part-time employment 16,900 17,400 14,500 14,000 15,200 16,600
Unemployment 4,000 4,700 4,400 3,700 4,100 3,900
Unemployment rate 13.1% 13.9% 12.8% 11.2% 12.8% 12.1%
Participation rate 65.5% 70.8% 68.7% 62.3% 64.2% 68.2%
Employment rate 57.0% 61.0% 59.9% 55.3% 56.0% 59.7%

Here we see 200 additional youth working in May compared to April. There were 1,100 fewer youth working in a full-time capacity, and the number of youth working in a part-time capacity increased by 1,400. May saw the youth unemployment rate decrease to 12.1% from 12.8% in April, while the participation rate increased from 64.2% to 68.2%. Similarly, the employment rate increased from 56.0% to 59.7%. Compared to this time last year, May 2019 reports 100 fewer youth employed in a full-time capacity and 800 fewer youth working in a part-time capacity.

Overall, however, these data should be seen as positive changes over the past month. As mentioned above, in an ideal state of affairs, we would see decreases in the unemployment rate with increases in the participation and employment rates, and these trends are reflected in the youth data.


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 Interim CEO, Adam Durrant.