Eye on Employment: August 2019

Posted in News, Eye on Employment

Eye on Employment: August 2019

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. 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 June 2018 July 2018 2018 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019
Labour force 217,900 221,300 215,800 204,500 207,000 210,600
Employment 204,400 206,100 201,700 191,900 196,000 199,200
Full-time employment 151,900 156,500 153,100 148,200 152,100 155,800
Part-time employment 52,400 49,600 48,600 43,600 43,900 43,400
Unemployment 13,500 15,300 14,200 12,600 11,100 11,400
Unemployment rate 6.2% 6.9% 6.6% 6.2% 5.4% 5.4%
Participation rate 61.9% 62.8% 61.2% 57.4% 58.0% 59.0%
Employment rate 58.1% 58.5% 57.2% 53.9% 55.0% 55.8%

Month-over-month, we can see 3,600 more people either working or looking for work (an increase in the labour force) between June 2019 and July 2019. There were 3,700 more people in full-time employment. This is the second consecutive month to see growth in full-time employment exceeding 3,000 people. Compared to this time last year, July 2019 reports 6,900 fewer people reporting employment than was observed in July 2018. This change is attributed to decreases in part-time employment. Specifically, July 2019 saw a slight decrease of 700 people employed in a full-time capacity compared to July 2018. With respect to part-time employment, there were 6,200 fewer people employed part-time in July 2019 than in July 2018.

Niagara’s unemployment rate remained at 5.4% between June and July 2019. This occurred alongside the month-over-month employment rate increasing from 55.0% to 55.8%. Niagara’s labour market participation rate also increased from 58.0% to 59.0%. Together, these trends reflect positive change: a falling or steady unemployment rate, coupled with increases in the employment and participation rates.

It is 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 June 2018 July 2018 2018 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019
Labour force 217,100 217,200 215,800 207,000 207,100 207,000
Employment 203,100 201,700 201,700 195,000 195,300 195,300
Unemployment 14,000 15,400 14,200 12,100 11,800 11,700
Unemployment rate 6.4% 7.1% 6.6% 5.8% 5.7% 5.7%
Participation rate 61.7% 61.7% 61.2% 58.1% 58.1% 58.0%
Employment rate 57.7% 57.3% 57.2% 54.8% 54.8% 54.7%

Table 2 shows that there were the same number of people employed in Niagara between June 2019 and July 2019, which is different from the unadjusted pattern, which saw growth of over 3,000 people employed in Niagara. The seasonally adjusted data show that the unemployment rate held the same pattern as the unadjusted data, holding steady month over month. The adjusted data indicate that the participation and employment rates each had a slight decline of 0.1%. 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) the gains that we observe in July’s unadjusted data are largely due to seasonality.

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 June 2018 July 2018 2018 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019
Labour force 35,400 39,500 34,300 32,200 33,700 36,200
Employment 30,900 33,800 29,900 28,200 29,600 31,900
Full-time employment 14,000 18,100 15,400 11,700 12,100 15,700
Part-time employment 16,900 15,700 14,500 16,600 17,500 16,200
Unemployment 4,500 5,700 4,400 3,900 4,100 4,300
Unemployment rate 12.7% 14.4% 12.8% 12.1% 12.2% 11.9%
Participation rate 72.5% 78.2% 68.7% 68.2% 71.1% 74.6%
Employment rate 63.3% 66.9% 59.9% 59.7% 62.4% 65.8%

Here we see 2,300 additional youth working in July 2019 compared to June 2019. There were 3,600 more youth working in a full-time capacity, though the number of youth working in a part-time capacity decreased by 1,300. July saw the youth unemployment rate decrease from 12.2% in June to 11.9% in July, while the participation rate increased from 71.1% to 74.6%. Similarly, the employment rate increased from 62.4% in June to 65.8% in July. Compared to this time last year, July 2019 reports 2,400 fewer youth employed in a full-time capacity but 500 more youth working in a part-time capacity.

These data should be seen as positive month-over-month changes. As previously noted, a rise in the participation and employment rates with a subsequent decrease in the unemployment rate is considered a positive outcome. Additionally, a 3.5% increase in youth participation speaks to the fact that many of the youth on summer vacation are actively engaging in the workforce.

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.