Eye on Employment: September 2019

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Eye on Employment: September 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 July 2018 August 2018 2018 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019
Labour force 221,300 221,600 215,800 207,000 210,600 214,100
Employment 206,100 205,400 201,700 196,000 199,200 202,000
Full-time employment 156,500 157,000 153,100 152,100 155,800 158,900
Part-time employment 49,600 48,400 48,600 43,900 43,400 43,100
Unemployment 15,300 16,200 14,200 11,100 11,400 12,100
Unemployment rate 6.9% 7.3% 6.6% 5.4% 5.4% 5.7%
Participation rate 62.8% 62.8% 61.2% 58.0% 59.0% 59.9%
Employment rate 58.5% 58.2% 57.2% 55.0% 55.8% 56.5%

Month-over-month, we can see 3,500 more people either working or looking for work (an increase in the labour force) between July 2019 and August 2019. There were 3,100 more people in full-time employment. This is the third consecutive month to see growth in full-time employment exceeding 3,000 people. Compared to this time last year, August 2019 reports 3,400 fewer people reporting employment than was observed in August 2018. This change is attributed to decreases in part-time employment. Specifically, August 2019 saw an increase of 1,900 people employed in a full-time capacity compared to August 2018. With respect to part-time employment, there were 5,300 fewer people employed part-time in August 2019 than in August 2018.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 5.4% in July to 5.7% in August 2019. This occurred alongside month-over-month increases in the employment rate (from 55.8% to 56.5%) and participation rate (from 59.0% to 59.9%).  Though the unemployment rate rose 0.3%, this is to be expected given the simultaneous participation rate increase. It can often take some time for people new to the labour force to find work, which means that an increase in the participation rate can lead to a short-term increase in the unemployment rate.  

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 July 2018 August 2018 2018 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019
Labour force 217,200 216,700 215,800 207,100 207,000 209,200
Employment 201,700 200,500 201,700 195,300 195,300 197,100
Unemployment 15,400 16,200 14,200 11,800 11,700 12,100
Unemployment rate 7.1% 7.5% 6.6% 5.7% 5.7% 5.8%
Participation rate 61.7% 61.4% 61.2% 58.1% 58.0% 58.5%
Employment rate 57.3% 56.8% 57.2% 54.8% 54.7% 55.1%

Table 2 shows that there were 1,800 more people employed in Niagara between July 2019 and August 2019, which is similar in trend to the unadjusted pattern, which saw an increase of 2,800 people employed. The seasonally adjusted data show that changes in the unemployment, participation, and employment rates are similar to the unadjusted data, with all three indicators rising slightly month-over-month. The adjusted data indicate that the participation and employment rates had increases of 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively. The unemployment rate also rose, though by only 0.1% from July to August, 2019.

Though the trends are similar, given some of the minor differences in magnitude 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, even when we adjust for seasonal strengths, we are still seeing increases in employment and labour force participation. Therefore, the gains we are seeing are not just summer students or similar seasonal changes but rather an overall increase.

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 July 2018 August 2018 2018 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019
Labour force 39,500 40,100 34,300 33,700 36,200 37,500
Employment 33,800 34,500 29,900 29,600 31,900 33,700
Full-time employment 18,100 20,000 15,400 12,100 15,700 19,300
Part-time employment 15,700 14,400 14,500 17,500 16,200 14,400
Unemployment 5,700 5,600 4,400 4,100 4,300 3,900
Unemployment rate 14.4% 14.0% 12.8% 12.2% 11.9% 10.4%
Participation rate 78.2% 78.2% 68.7% 71.1% 74.6% 75.8%
Employment rate 66.9% 67.3% 59.9% 62.4% 65.8% 68.1%

Here we see 1,800 additional youth working in August 2019 compared to July 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 1,800. August saw the youth unemployment rate decrease from 11.9% in July to 10.4%, while the participation rate increased from 74.6% to 75.8%. Similarly, the employment rate increased from 65.8% in July to 68.1% in August. Compared to this time last year, August 2019 reports 700 fewer youth employed in a full-time capacity but the same number of youth working in a part-time capacity.

These data should be seen as positive month-over-month changes. A rise in the participation and employment rates with a concurrent decrease in the unemployment rate is considered a positive outcome, as it shows that youth are actively engaged and 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 CEO, Vivian Kinnaird.