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||May 2018||June 2018||2018||April 2019||May 2019||June 2019|
Month-over-month, we can see 2,500 more people either working or looking for work (an increase in the labour force) between May 2019 and June 2019. There were 3,900 more people in full-time employment and 300 more people in part-time employment in June compared to May. Compared to this time last year, June 2019 reports 8,400 fewer people with employment than was observed in June 2018. This change is attributed to decreases in part-time employment. Specifically, June 2019 saw an increase of 200 people employed in a full-time capacity than what was observed in June 2018. With respect to part-time employment, there were 8,500 fewer people employed in June 2019 than in June 2018.
Niagara’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.2% in May 2019 to 5.4% in June 2019. This decrease occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate increasing from 53.9% to 55.0%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate also increased from 57.4% to 58.0%. This decrease in the unemployment rate alongside increases in the participation and employment rates is considered an ideal state of labour market affairs.
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||May 2018||June 2018||2018||Apr 2019||May 2019||June 2019|
Table 2 shows that there were 300 more people employed in Niagara between May 2019 and June 2019, which is consistent with the employment increase in the unadjusted data, though the adjusted growth is smaller. The seasonally adjusted data show that the unemployment rate also decreased, though once again at a lesser rate (0.1%). The adjusted data indicate that the participation and employment rates held steady at 58.1% and 54.8%, respectively. These data contrast with the increases observed 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 do still see positive signs in Niagara’s economy, just to a lesser extent than the unadjusted data show. In other words, the gains that we observe in June’s data are highly impacted by seasonality. Both datasets indicate that there were more people in the labour force and reporting employment between May and June.
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||May 2018||June 2018||2018||Apr 2019||May 2019||June 2019|
Here we see 1,400 additional youth working in June compared to May. There were 400 more youth working in a full-time capacity, and the number of youth working in a part-time capacity increased by 900. June saw the youth unemployment rate increase slightly to 12.2% from 12.1% in May, while the participation rate increased from 68.2% to 71.1%. Similarly, the employment rate increased from 59.7% in May to 62.4% in June. Compared to this time last year, June 2019 reports 1,900 fewer youth employed in a full-time capacity but 600 more youth working in a part-time capacity.
Overall, these data should be seen as positive changes over the past month. Though the unemployment rate rose ever so slightly (0.1%) this is likely due to the 2.9% participation rate increase. As youth enter the work force they are unlikely to immediately find work, so a minimal rise in unemployment when compared to the participation rate is a positive sign. Additionally, a 2.7% increase in youth employment speaks to the fact that many of the youth entering the workforce are successfully finding 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 Interim CEO, Adam Durrant.