Eye on Employment: March 2020

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Eye on Employment: March 2020

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 January 2019 February 2019 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020
Labour force 213,000 212,200 211,800 217,000 215,100 211,600
Employment 199,100 197,400 199,600 206,800 203,400 199,200
Full-time employment 154,000 153,200 154,700 158,800 156,200 152,900
Part-time employment 45,100 44,100 44,900 48,000 47,200 46,400
Unemployment 13,900 14,800 12,200 10,300 11,700 12,400
Unemployment rate 6.5% 7.0% 5.8% 4.7% 5.4% 5.9%
Participation rate 60.1% 59.8% 59.3% 60.4% 59.8% 58.8%
Employment rate 56.1% 55.6% 55.8% 57.5% 56.5% 55.3%

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0095-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0128)


Month-over-month, we can see 3,500 fewer people either working or looking for work (a decrease in the labour force) between January 2020 and February 2020. There were 3,300 fewer people in full-time employment, and 800 fewer people in part-time employment. Compared to this time last year, February 2020 reports 1,800 more people reporting employment than was observed in February 2019. This change is attributed to increases in part-time employment, which saw an additional 2,300 people employed in a part-time capacity in February 2020 compared to the month in 2019.

 
Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 5.4% in January 2020 to 5.9% in February 2020. This occurred alongside month-over-month decreases in the employment rate (from 56.5% to 55.3%) and the participation rate (from 59.8% to 58.8%). This month-over-month change is generally indicative of fewer people in employment, and more people actively looking for work. These data continue the trend seen between December 2019 to January 2020. However, employment slowdowns in the winter months are typical of the Niagara region’s seasonal economy. NWPB will continue to monitor this trend and provide an in-depth analysis in the April Eye on Employment should it continue for a third month.

 
It is important to keep in mind that the data in Table 1 are seasonally unadjusted figures. That means factors such as holidays - 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

Seasonal Labour Force Characteristics January 2019 February 2019 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020
Labour force 213,500 214,300 211,800 217,000 216,200 214,600
Employment 199,100 199,800 199,600 206,500 205,000 202,900
Unemployment 14,400 14,500 12,200 10,500 11,200 11,700
Unemployment rate 6.7% 6.8% 5.8% 4.8% 5.2% 5.5%
Participation rate 60.2% 60.4% 59.3% 60.4% 60.1% 59.6%
Employment rate 56.1% 56.3% 55.8% 57.5% 57.0% 56.4%

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0294-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0135)


Table 2 shows that there were 2,100 fewer people employed in Niagara between January 2020 and February 2020, which is similar in trend, though smaller in scope to the unadjusted pattern, which saw 4,200 people exiting employment. The seasonally adjusted data show that changes in the unemployment rate (5.2% in January compared to 5.5% in February), participation rate (60.1% in January compared to 59.6% in February) and employment rate (57.0% in January compared to 56.4% in February) are similar to the unadjusted data, with unemployment increasing and participation and employment decreasing.


As the trends are similar, 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, when we account for predictable seasonal effects, we still see decreases in employment and participation, and an increase in unemployment.



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 January 2019 February 2019 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020
Labour force 35,800 34,900 33,500 31,600 31,500 30,400
Employment 32,100 31,000 29,300 26,600 26,400 26,100
Full-time employment 18,400 17,200 14,500 12,300 12,100 12,100
Part-time employment 13,700 13,800 14,800 14,300 14,300 14,000
Unemployment 3,700 3,900 4,200 5,000 5,200 4,400
Unemployment rate 10.3% 11.2% 12.5% 15.8% 16.5% 14.5%
Participation rate 63.3% 62.9% 68.0% 67.5% 67.7% 65.4%
Employment rate 56.7% 55.9% 59.4% 56.8% 56.8% 56.1%

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0095-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0128)



Statistics Canada reports 300 fewer youth working in February 2020 compared to January 2020. There number of youth working in a full-time capacity did not change, but the number of youth working in a part-time capacity decreased by 300. In other words, all decline in youth employment between January and February 2020 can be attributed to fewer youth working in a part-time capacity.

February 2020 saw the youth unemployment rate decrease from 16.5% in January 2020 to 14.5%. This figure is still above the 2019 annual average of 12.5% for youth unemployment. The youth employment rate decreased from 56.8% to 56.1% between January and February 2020, and the participation rate decreased from 67.7% in January to 65.4% in February.

One additional note can be made about the change in the size of the youth labour force between February 2019 and February 2020. The 2020 figure is 12.9% lower than what was reported in 2019. The February 2020 figure is similarly lower than the 2019 average for the youth labour force. Students moving into and out of full-time education can lead to significant month-over-month changes in this indicator. Given the scope of this particular change, NWPB will continue to monitor this trend.



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.