Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report 2014/2015 Chapter I - Labour market context

This chapter outlines key labour market developments and the economic situation that prevailed in Canada during the 2014/2015 fiscal year, the period for which this Report assesses the Employment Insurance program. Footnote 1 Section 1 provides a general overview and historical context of the economic situation for 2014/2015, while Section 2 summarizes key labour market developments. Footnote 2 , Footnote 3 More comprehensive information on elements discussed in this chapter is available under Annex 1.

1. Economic Overview

1.1 Economic growth

The Canadian economy experienced real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the fifth consecutive year in 2014/2015. Footnote 4 Canada saw real GDP growth at a rate of 2.4% in 2014/2015, and its level was estimated at $1.98 trillion in nominal terms, or $1.76 trillion in real terms (chained $2007). Real GDP growth in 2014/2015 was the same as 2013/2014, but was higher than growth rates observed in 2012/2013 and lower than 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 (see Chart 1).

Chart 1 - Real Gross Domestic Product, Canada, 2007/2008 to 2014/2015
Chart 1: description follows
Show Data Table
Gross Domestic Product (left scale) Gross Domestic Product Growth (right scale)
2007/2008 1579714 2.1%
2008/2009 1580283 0.0%
2009/2010 1549030 -2.0%
2010/2011 1602283 3.4%
2011/2012 1649702 3.0%
2012/2013 1675468 1.6%
2013/2014 1714964 2.4%
2014/2015 1756778 2.4%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts, CANSIM Table 380-0064

After recording the largest quarterly percentage decline in real GDP since 1981 in the first quarter of 2009, the Canadian economy recovered in subsequent quarters, reporting positive growth rates in every quarter until a contraction of the economy began in the first quarter of 2015. Footnote 5 Canada’s GDP growth has been moderate since the first quarter of 2012 when compared with rates observed just after the 2008 recession with quarterly GDP growth of 0.5% or less in eight of the last thirteen quarters (see Chart 2).

Chart 2 - Real Gross Domestic Product Growth, by Quarter, Canada, 2007/2008 to 2014/2015
Chart 2: description follows
Show Data Table
Real Gross Domestic Product at Market Prices (Chained 2007 Dollars, Quarterly Percentage Change)
2007 Q2 1%
Q3 0.4%
Q4 0.1%
2008 Q1 0.1%
Q2 0.3%
Q3 0.8%
Q4 -1.2%
2009 Q1 -2.3%
Q2 -1.1%
Q3 0.5%
Q4 1.2%
2010 Q1 1.2%
Q2 0.5%
Q3 0.7%
Q4 1.1%
2011 Q1 0.7%
Q2 0.2%
Q3 1.4%
Q4 0.8%
2012 Q1 0%
Q2 0.3%
Q3 0.2%
Q4 0.1%
2013 Q1 1%
Q2 0.4%
Q3 0.7%
Q4 1%
2014 Q1 0.1%
Q2 0.9%
Q3 0.5%
Q4 0.8%
2015 Q1 -0.2%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts, CANSIM Table 380-0064.

When compared to other Group of Seven (G7) countries, Canada reported the second highest rate of real GDP growth in 2014, below the United Kingdom and equal to the United States (see Chart 3). Another way to compare Canada’s performance internationally using GDP is through the use of measures comparing GDP per-capita. The use of GDP per-capita allows for an assessment of how a country’s economic output compares to others when adjusted for each country’s population, providing a comparison of overall living standards within the economies assessed. Based on the most recent data available from the World Bank, in 2014 Canada’s GDP per-capita declined compared to results observed in 2013, which is mainly attributable to a combination of gradual declines in the value of global commodity prices over the time period assessed (also seen through the declines in per-capita GDP of countries with growth heavily reliant on commodity price fluctuations including the Russian Federation, Norway, Australia, Kuwait, and Ghana among others), and the rise in Canada’s total population relative to increases observed in labour force participation. With a level of $50,235, Canada ranked 14th globally in GDP-per-capita in 2014 and was 2nd amongst G7 members behind the United States. Footnote 6 Among G7 nations in 2014 the United Kingdom (+9.5%), the United States (+3.1%), Germany (+3.0%), and France (+0.2%) reported increases in GDP per-capita while Italy (-1.4%), Canada (-4.0%) and Japan (-6.3%) reported declines (see Chart 3).

Chart 3 - Gross Domestic Product, Changes in Real and per Capita Growth, G7 Countries, 2013 to 2014
Chart 3: description follows
Show Data Table
2013 2014
Canada GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $52,305 $50,235
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 2.0% 2.4%
France GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $42,628 $42,733
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 0.7% 0.2%
Germany GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $46,442 $47,822
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 0.4% 1.6%
Italy GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $35,421 $34,909
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) -1.7% -0.4%
Japan GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $38,634 $36,194
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 1.6% -0.1%
United Kingdom GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $42,309 $46,332
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 1.7% 3.0%
United States GDP per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) $52,980 $54,629
Real GDP Growth (Annual % Change, Constant Prices in the National Currency) 1.5% 2.4%
  • Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators, National Accounts Data, December 2015 (for data on GDP per capita), and International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, October 2015 (for data on change in real GDP at market prices).

In 2014/2015, the goods and services sectors both recorded positive GDP growth in Canada. Service-producing industries (+2.4%) slightly outpaced growth rates for goods-producing industries (+1.9%). Despite challenges from the onset of oil price declines starting in the second half of 2014, the Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction industry posted average annual growth of 4.7% between 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. Despite the positive annual growth seen in this industry, movements in monthly data show this sector began to experience a period of contraction starting in November 2014 which persisted through the end of 2014/2015. The industry subsector which faced the largest impacts from the drop in oil prices in 2014/2015 were not businesses directly involved in oil and gas extraction activities, but those defined as businesses providing support activities and services for mining, oil and gas extraction.

The two North American Industry Classification System industries Footnote 7 that reported the highest rates of real GDP growth for 2014/2015 were the Wholesale Trade industry (+5.2%) and the Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction industry (+4.7%). The two industry sectors that reported the lowest rates of economic growth were the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting industry (-8.6%) and the Management of Companies. and Enterprises industry (-0.8%). Footnote 8

1.2 Key Economic Developments

The labour productivity of Canadian businesses grew by 2.6% in 2014/2015, following an increase of 1.8% in 2013/2014 and a decline of 0.7% in 2012/2013. The labour productivity growth rate observed for Canada in 2014/2015 is the highest growth rate reported in almost a decade (see Chart 4).

Chart 4 - Labour Productivity, Canada, 2004/2005 to 2014/2015
Chart 4: description follows
Show Data Table
Labour Productivity Growth
2004/2005 0.8%
2005/2006 2.7%
2006/2007 0.3%
2007/2008 -0.5%
2008/2009 0.1%
2009/2010 0.7%
2010/2011 1.2%
2011/2012 1.6%
2012/2013 -0.7%
2013/2014 1.8%
2014/2015 2.6%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Indexes of Labour Productivity, CANSIM Table 383-0008.

In 2014, Canada’s labour productivity level ranked fourth among the G7 countries, in comparison to a fifth place in 2013. Labour productivity in Canada was 11% below the G7 average for 2014, and was 5% above the average of all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries (see Chart 5).

Chart 5 - Labour Productivity, G7 Countries and OECD Average, 2014
Chart 5: description follows
Show Data Table
2014
Japan $39.40
Italy $47.00
United Kingdom $47.40
Canada $48.30
Germany $58.90
France $59.80
United States $62.50
G7 $54.50
OECD - Total $45.90
  • Note: Totals listed have been rounded to the nearest dollar from amounts reported by the OECD.
  • Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD Productivity Database, June 2015.

One of the most significant economic events for Canada and worldwide during 2014/2015 was the decline in oil prices, which declined significantly starting in July 2014. The average spot price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, a global benchmark for world energy prices, fell from $US 105.79/barrel at the beginning of June 2014 to $US 47.22/barrel at the beginning of January 2015, a decline of 55% over that period. Footnote 9 The decline in the commodity price resulted in large reductions in employment in the Forestry, Fishing, Oil and Gas Extraction industry of Alberta’s economy over a six-month period, with the total number of employed falling from 185,500 in September 2014 to 161,500 in March 2015. Footnote 10 Between November 2014 and April 2015, price declines were also observed for natural gas (-38.6%), lumber (-22.4%), base metals (-14.9%), and agricultural products (-9.7%), though declines for these commodities were not as severe as the drop in oil prices in the second half of 2014/2015. Footnote 11

2. Labour market overview

2.1 Labour force

The total size of Canada’s labour force Footnote 12 grew by 0.4% (72,300) to 19.14 million in 2014/2015, less than half the rate of growth observed in 2013/2014 (+1.0%). Growth in the labour force was most prominent in Alberta (+56,000) and Ontario (+19,800), while all the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia saw declines in 2014/2015.

Growth of the Canadian working age population (i.e. population aged 15 and over) has outpaced or been equal to growth in the number of labour force participants in Canada for every year since 2008/2009 (see Chart 6).

Chart 6 - Population and Labour Force Growth, Canada, 1977/1978 to 2014/2015
Chart 6: description follows
Show Data Table
Population Growth (Persons 15 Years of Age and Older) Labour Force Growth
1977/1978 2.1% 2.6%
1978/1979 1.9% 3.6%
1979/1980 1.9% 3.2%
1980/1981 2.0% 2.8%
1981/1982 1.7% 2.5%
1982/1983 1.5% 0.6%
1983/1984 1.3% 1.8%
1984/1985 1.2% 1.9%
1985/1986 1.2% 2.1%
1986/1987 1.2% 1.7%
1987/1988 1.3% 2.0%
1988/1989 1.3% 1.9%
1989/1990 1.4% 1.8%
1990/1991 1.5% 1.2%
1991/1992 1.4% 0.4%
1992/1993 1.3% 0.2%
1993/1994 1.2% 0.8%
1994/1995 1.3% 1.1%
1995/1996 1.3% 0.6%
1996/1997 1.3% 1.2%
1997/1998 1.2% 1.7%
1998/1999 1.1% 1.6%
1999/2000 1.2% 1.7%
2000/2001 1.3% 1.7%
2001/2002 1.4% 1.7%
2002/2003 1.4% 3.0%
2003/2004 1.2% 1.9%
2004/2005 1.3% 1.1%
2005/2006 1.4% 0.8%
2006/2007 1.4% 1.5%
2007/2008 1.3% 1.8%
2008/2009 1.4% 1.3%
2009/2010 1.4% 0.7%
2010/2011 1.3% 1.2%
2011/2012 1.2% 0.8%
2012/2013 1.3% 1.3%
2013/2014 1.3% 1.0%
2014/2015 1.1% 0.4%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

The number of working age individuals not in the labour force has been rising at a faster rate than the number of people participating in the labour force, and as a result Canada has seen its labour force participation rate Footnote 13 decline year-over-year since 2008/2009, despite a growing number of Canadians participating in the labour force. Following a decline of 0.2 percentage point to 66.4% in 2013/2014, Canada’s participation rate fell again by half a percentage point in 2014/2015 to reach 65.9% (see Chart 7).

Over the last 10 fiscal years, the labour force participation rate has fluctuated from a high of 67.5% in 2007/2008 to a low of 65.9% in 2014/2015, and has remained at a higher level, on average, than rates observed in previous decades (see Chart 7). In comparison, the percentage of working-age Americans (defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as those aged 16 years and over) who participated in the U.S. labour force reached a 35-year low in 2014/2015, falling 0.3 percentage point from the previous year to 62.8%.

Chart 7 - Labour Force Participation Rate, Canada and United States, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 7: description follows
Show Data Table
Canada United States
1976/1977 61.6% 61.7%
1977/1978 62.0% 62.5%
1978/1979 63.1% 63.4%
1979/1980 63.8% 63.7%
1980/1981 64.4% 63.8%
1981/1982 64.9% 63.8%
1982/1983 64.4% 64.0%
1983/1984 64.8% 64.1%
1984/1985 65.2% 64.6%
1985/1986 65.8% 64.9%
1986/1987 66.1% 65.4%
1987/1988 66.6% 65.7%
1988/1989 67.0% 66.1%
1989/1990 67.2% 66.5%
1990/1991 67.0% 66.4%
1991/1992 66.3% 66.2%
1992/1993 65.6% 66.4%
1993/1994 65.3% 66.4%
1994/1995 65.2% 66.6%
1995/1996 64.7% 66.6%
1996/1997 64.6% 66.9%
1997/1998 64.9% 67.1%
1998/1999 65.3% 67.1%
1999/2000 65.6% 67.1%
2000/2001 65.8% 67.0%
2001/2002 66.0% 66.7%
2002/2003 67.1% 66.5%
2003/2004 67.6% 66.2%
2004/2005 67.4% 65.9%
2005/2006 67.1% 66.1%
2006/2007 67.2% 66.2%
2007/2008 67.5% 66.0%
2008/2009 67.5% 65.9%
2009/2010 67.0% 65.2%
2010/2011 66.9% 64.5%
2011/2012 66.6% 64.0%
2012/2013 66.6% 63.6%
2013/2014 66.4% 63.1%
2014/2015 65.9% 62.8%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001 (for Canadian data), United States Department of Labour (Bureau of Labor Statistics), Current Population Survey (for U.S. data).

All provinces and territories have also reported marginal declines in labour force participation rates since 2012/2013 (see Chart 8).

Chart 8 - Labour Force Participation Rate, by Province and Territory, Canada, 2012/2013 to 2014/2015
Chart 8: description follows
Show Data Table
2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L. 62.3% 61.5% 60.8%
P.E.I. 69.4% 69.4% 68.4%
N.S. 64.4% 63.3% 62.7%
N.B. 63.4% 63.5% 63.1%
Que. 65.0% 65.0% 64.6%
Ont. 66.2% 66.2% 65.7%
Man. 69.0% 68.3% 68.0%
Sask. 69.9% 70.1% 69.6%
Alta. 73.4% 73.1% 72.8%
B.C. 64.7% 63.9% 63.1%
Y.T. 74.9% 74.2% 74.4%
N.W.T. 77.0% 76.9% 74.2%
Nvt. 64.8% 65.5% 61.4%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001 (for provincial data), and special tabulations (for territorial data).

By gender, the participation rate for men in Canada continues to be higher than the rate for women. While the gap in participation rates has narrowed considerably over time, the participation rate of women in the labour force has stabilized since 2002/2003. The gap in participation rates between men and women in 2014/2015 was 9.1 percentage points. The narrowing of the gap in participation rates between men and women since 1990/1991 is due to both an increasing participation rate by women and declines in the participation rate of men observed during that time (see Chart 9).

Chart 9 - Labour Force Participation Rate, by Gender, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 9: description follows
Show Data Table
Canada (Both Genders) Males Females
1976/1977 61.6% 77.6% 45.9%
1977/1978 62.0% 77.6% 46.7%
1978/1979 63.1% 78.1% 48.4%
1979/1980 63.9% 78.4% 49.7%
1980/1981 64.4% 78.4% 50.9%
1981/1982 65.0% 78.1% 52.2%
1982/1983 64.4% 76.9% 52.3%
1983/1984 64.8% 76.8% 53.1%
1984/1985 65.2% 76.8% 54.1%
1985/1986 65.8% 76.8% 55.2%
1986/1987 66.2% 76.8% 55.8%
1987/1988 66.6% 76.9% 56.7%
1988/1989 67.0% 76.6% 57.7%
1989/1990 67.2% 76.6% 58.2%
1990/1991 67.0% 75.9% 58.5%
1991/1992 66.3% 74.7% 58.3%
1992/1993 65.6% 73.7% 57.7%
1993/1994 65.3% 73.2% 57.6%
1994/1995 65.2% 73.0% 57.6%
1995/1996 64.7% 72.4% 57.4%
1996/1997 64.7% 72.1% 57.5%
1997/1998 64.9% 72.2% 57.9%
1998/1999 65.2% 72.2% 58.6%
1999/2000 65.6% 72.4% 59.0%
2000/2001 65.8% 72.4% 59.5%
2001/2002 66.0% 72.4% 59.9%
2002/2003 67.1% 73.2% 61.3%
2003/2004 67.6% 73.4% 62.0%
2004/2005 67.4% 73.1% 61.9%
2005/2006 67.1% 72.7% 61.6%
2006/2007 67.2% 72.4% 62.1%
2007/2008 67.5% 72.6% 62.5%
2008/2009 67.5% 72.6% 62.5%
2009/2010 67.0% 71.7% 62.5%
2010/2011 66.9% 71.6% 62.4%
2011/2012 66.6% 71.2% 62.1%
2012/2013 66.6% 71.0% 62.2%
2013/2014 66.4% 70.9% 62.0%
2014/2015 65.9% 70.5% 61.4%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

By age, the participation rate for core-aged individuals (25 to 54 years) has remained relatively stable over time before a drop of 0.4 percentage point between 2013/2014 (86.6%) and 2014/2015 (86.2%). A significant shift that has occurred in Canada’s labour market is the large increase in participation rates observed among those aged 55 and over, increasing from 25.6% in 2000/2001 to 37.1% in 2014/2015, despite a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015, the first decline for this group in 19 years. In contrast, the youth cohort (15 to 24 years) reported increases on average in participation rates from 2000/2001 to 2008/2009 and declines since then. This trend may be starting to reverse as participation rates for the youth cohort increased year over year between 2012/2013 (63.7%) to 2014/2015 (64.3%) as economic conditions improved (see Chart 10).

Chart 10 - Labour Force Participation Rate, by Age Group, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 10: description follows
Show Data Table
15 to 24 Years 25 to 54 Years 55 Years and Over
1976/1977 63.9% 73.7% 31.2%
1977/1978 64.7% 74.3% 30.5%
1978/1979 66.1% 75.9% 30.5%
1979/1980 67.9% 76.6% 30.5%
1980/1981 68.8% 77.6% 29.9%
1981/1982 68.9% 78.8% 29.7%
1982/1983 67.2% 78.7% 29.3%
1983/1984 67.6% 79.5% 28.9%
1984/1985 68.1% 80.4% 28.4%
1985/1986 69.0% 81.4% 28.1%
1986/1987 69.8% 82.1% 27.1%
1987/1988 70.5% 82.8% 26.8%
1988/1989 70.8% 83.5% 26.6%
1989/1990 71.0% 84.0% 26.1%
1990/1991 69.4% 84.3% 25.7%
1991/1992 67.6% 83.9% 25.2%
1992/1993 65.6% 83.3% 24.8%
1993/1994 64.3% 83.5% 24.3%
1994/1995 63.8% 83.4% 24.5%
1995/1996 62.9% 83.2% 23.7%
1996/1997 62.0% 83.4% 23.8%
1997/1998 61.3% 84.1% 24.4%
1998/1999 62.4% 84.4% 24.7%
1999/2000 63.6% 84.7% 25.2%
2000/2001 64.7% 84.9% 25.6%
2001/2002 64.9% 85.2% 26.4%
2002/2003 66.9% 86.1% 28.4%
2003/2004 67.2% 86.5% 30.3%
2004/2005 66.6% 86.5% 30.9%
2005/2006 66.0% 86.2% 31.7%
2006/2007 66.3% 86.3% 32.4%
2007/2008 67.1% 86.6% 33.6%
2008/2009 67.1% 86.7% 34.3%
2009/2010 65.1% 86.4% 35.2%
2010/2011 64.4% 86.4% 36.0%
2011/2012 64.2% 86.4% 36.3%
2012/2013 63.7% 86.7% 36.8%
2013/2014 63.8% 86.6% 37.3%
2014/2015 64.3% 86.2% 37.1%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

The shifts occurring in labour force participation rates across age groups are much clearer if non-core aged cohorts (i.e. those aged 15-24 and 55 and over) are divided into five-year increments. Between 2000/2001 and 2014/2015, the two largest shifts observed among these age groups in terms of participation rates have occurred in the 60 to 64 (+16.8 percentage points between 2000/2001 and 2014/2015) and the 55 to 59 age group (+11.2 percentage points). An opposite trend of declining participation rates has occurred among youth, with participation dropping marginally among 20 to 24 years old (-1.5 percentage point between 2008/2009 and 2014/2015) and significantly among workers aged 15 to 19 years old (-6.0 percentage points) (see Chart 11). Based on these results, the Canadian economy has become increasingly reliant on older workers, and the eventual retirement or departure of many of these workers in future years may raise challenges in meeting demands for labour.

Chart 11 - Labour Force Participation Rate, by Age Group, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 11: description follows
Show Data Table
15 to 19 Years 20 to 24 Years 25 to 54 Years 55 to 59 Years 60 to 64 Years 65 Years and Over
1976/1977 50.6% 77.9% 73.7% 60.3% 44.8% 8.8%
1977/1978 51.5% 78.5% 74.3% 59.6% 43.2% 8.5%
1978/1979 52.9% 79.6% 75.9% 59.5% 44.0% 8.3%
1979/1980 55.5% 80.4% 76.6% 59.9% 44.3% 8.3%
1980/1981 56.2% 81.2% 77.6% 59.8% 43.1% 7.9%
1981/1982 56.0% 81.0% 78.8% 59.8% 43.1% 7.7%
1982/1983 53.0% 80.2% 78.7% 59.8% 42.0% 7.7%
1983/1984 52.6% 80.5% 79.5% 59.7% 41.5% 7.3%
1984/1985 53.1% 80.4% 80.4% 59.4% 40.7% 7.2%
1985/1986 54.2% 80.9% 81.4% 61.2% 38.6% 7.1%
1986/1987 55.4% 81.6% 82.1% 59.8% 38.1% 6.6%
1987/1988 57.1% 81.7% 82.8% 60.5% 37.3% 6.8%
1988/1989 58.4% 81.7% 83.5% 61.4% 36.9% 6.7%
1989/1990 59.2% 81.6% 84.0% 60.9% 36.5% 6.7%
1990/1991 57.9% 80.0% 84.3% 60.5% 37.0% 6.6%
1991/1992 54.9% 79.5% 83.9% 61.1% 34.9% 6.8%
1992/1993 52.4% 78.0% 83.3% 60.9% 35.7% 6.3%
1993/1994 50.8% 77.2% 83.5% 59.7% 35.0% 6.4%
1994/1995 50.0% 77.1% 83.4% 60.4% 35.4% 6.4%
1995/1996 49.8% 75.9% 83.2% 59.9% 32.7% 6.2%
1996/1997 47.7% 76.5% 83.4% 59.6% 33.7% 6.1%
1997/1998 46.9% 75.8% 84.1% 60.2% 34.6% 6.4%
1998/1999 48.7% 76.3% 84.4% 60.3% 35.0% 6.5%
1999/2000 50.3% 77.1% 84.7% 61.7% 36.0% 6.1%
2000/2001 52.4% 77.1% 84.9% 62.6% 36.5% 5.9%
2001/2002 52.6% 77.3% 85.2% 62.9% 37.1% 6.3%
2002/2003 55.1% 78.6% 86.1% 64.6% 40.7% 6.9%
2003/2004 54.8% 79.2% 86.5% 67.9% 42.2% 7.6%
2004/2005 54.4% 78.6% 86.5% 67.6% 44.0% 7.7%
2005/2006 53.3% 78.4% 86.2% 68.4% 44.1% 8.3%
2006/2007 54.1% 78.4% 86.3% 69.5% 45.5% 8.4%
2007/2008 55.4% 78.6% 86.6% 70.9% 47.5% 9.2%
2008/2009 55.9% 78.2% 86.7% 71.4% 47.8% 10.1%
2009/2010 52.3% 77.6% 86.4% 71.2% 50.3% 10.8%
2010/2011 51.6% 76.8% 86.4% 72.9% 50.7% 11.4%
2011/2012 50.7% 77.0% 86.4% 72.7% 51.1% 12.0%
2012/2013 50.0% 76.2% 86.7% 74.0% 51.5% 12.6%
2013/2014 49.6% 76.3% 86.6% 73.6% 53.6% 13.2%
2014/2015 49.9% 76.7% 86.2% 73.8% 53.3% 13.3%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

2.2 Employment

Canada saw a moderate increase in employment in 2014/2015, with a net gain of 103,000 positions (+0.6%) from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015, to reach an annual average of 17.83 million persons employed. This was the fifth consecutive year of employment growth in Canada since the decline in employment observed in 2009/2010 following the impacts of the 2008 recession. Footnote 14

When compared to other advanced economies, on a calendar year basis Canada (+0.6%) ranked fifth in the level of employment growth among the G7 countries during 2014 in percentage (e.g. the rate of increase) and numerical (e.g. total count of new employment positions created) terms, behind the United Kingdom (+2.3%), the United States (+1.6%), Germany (+0.9%) and marginally behind Japan (+0.6%), while remaining ahead of Italy (+0.4%) and France (+0.2%). Footnote 15

Despite increases in employment in 2014/2015, the national employment rate for 2014/2015 (61.4%) declined for the second consecutive year by 0.3 percentage point compared to the rate observed in 2013/2014 (61.7%). Footnote 16 The national employment rate has held relatively constant since the 2008 recession, similar to the years just after the initial recovery period after the recession of the early 1990s and in contrast to steady increases observed in the economic recovery period following the recessionary period of the early 1980s (see Chart 12).

Chart 12 - Employment Rate, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 12: description follows
Show Data Table
Employment rate
1976/1977 57.1%
1977/1978 56.9%
1978/1979 57.8%
1979/1980 59.2%
1980/1981 59.6%
1981/1982 59.8%
1982/1983 56.7%
1983/1984 57.2%
1984/1985 57.9%
1985/1986 59.1%
1986/1987 59.8%
1987/1988 61.0%
1988/1989 61.8%
1989/1990 62.2%
1990/1991 61.1%
1991/1992 59.4%
1992/1993 58.2%
1993/1994 57.9%
1994/1995 58.6%
1995/1996 58.6%
1996/1997 58.5%
1997/1998 59.2%
1998/1999 60.0%
1999/2000 60.8%
2000/2001 61.3%
2001/2002 61.1%
2002/2003 62.1%
2003/2004 62.5%
2004/2005 62.6%
2005/2006 62.6%
2006/2007 63.0%
2007/2008 63.5%
2008/2009 63.0%
2009/2010 61.4%
2010/2011 61.6%
2011/2012 61.6%
2012/2013 61.8%
2013/2014 61.7%
2014/2015 61.4%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

2.2.1 Employment, by Province and Territory, Gender and Age

Employment gains within the Canadian economy varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in 2014/2015. Alberta (+2.1%), the Yukon (+2.1%), Saskatchewan (+1.0%) and Manitoba (+1.0%) saw the largest percentage increases in employment from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015, while the Northwest Territories (-4.8%), Nunavut (-2.4%) Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.9%) and New Brunswick (-0.8%) reported the largest percentage declines over that same period.

Chart 13 - Employment, by Province and Territory, Canada, 2014/2015
Chart 13: description follows
Show Data Table
Growth from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
N.L. -1.9%
P.E.I. 0.0%
N.S. -0.6%
N.B. -0.8%
Que. 0.1%
Ont. 0.6%
Man. 1.0%
Sask. 1.0%
Alta. 2.1%
B.C. 0.4%
Y.T. 2.1%
N.W.T. -4.8%
Nvt. -2.4%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001 (for provincial data), and special tabulations (for territorial data).

Ontario (6.89 million people employed) and Quebec (4.07 million people employed) accounted for more than 60% of overall employment in Canada for 2014/2015. Alberta (2.29 million jobs) moved into third place for the total number of persons employed, marginally surpassing British Columbia (2.28 million jobs) (see Table 1).

Table 1 - Average Annual Count of Employed Persons (Thousands), by Province, 2014/2015
2014/2015 % of Total Employed - Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador 237.1 1.3%
Prince Edward Island 73.9 0.4%
Nova Scotia 447.9 2.5%
New Brunswick 352.9 2.0%
Quebec 4,065.5 22.8%
Ontario 6,886.0 38.6%
Manitoba 630.0 3.5%
Saskatchewan 571.4 3.2%
Alberta 2,286.0 12.8%
British Columbia 2,279.0 12.8%
Canada 17,829.6 100.0%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0087.

Consistent with historical trends, there was significant variability observed in employment rates across jurisdictions, with a gap of 17.9 percentage points between the jurisdiction reporting the highest (the Yukon) and lowest (Nunavut) employment rates. The Yukon (71.0%), Alberta (69.2%), the Northwest Territories (68.1%), Saskatchewan (66.8%) and Manitoba (64.3%) all reported employment rates above the national average of 61.4% (see Chart 14).

Chart 14 - Employment Rate, by Province and Territory, Canada, 2009/2010 to 2014/2015
Chart 14: description follows
Show Data Table
2008/2009 2009/2010 2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L 51.2% 49.8% 54.4% 53.5%
P.E.I. 60.2% 59.9% 61.4% 61.2%
N.S. 58.8% 58.1% 57.7% 57.2%
N.B. 59.0% 58.5% 57.1% 56.8%
Que. 60.5% 59.6% 60.0% 59.7%
Ont. 62.8% 60.7% 61.2% 61.0%
Man. 66.2% 65.4% 64.5% 64.3%
Sask. 67.3% 66.7% 67.2% 66.8%
Alta. 71.7% 68.9% 69.7% 69.2%
B.C. 62.6% 60.7% 59.8% 59.4%
Y.T. 71.4% 67.2% 70.3% 71.0%
N.W.T. 70.2% 65.5% 70.9% 68.1%
Nvt. 53.3% 53.0% 56.2% 53.1%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001 (for provincial data), and special tabulations (for territorial data).
2.2.1.1 Share of Employment, by Gender and Age

In terms of employment by gender, similar to labour force participation rates in recent years (see Chart 9), there has been a narrowing of the male and female shares of employed Canadians. In 2014/2015, men represented 52.4% of all employed Canadians while women represented 47.6%. The gap in the share of employment narrowed considerably over time until the year 2009/2010 (when 52.0% of all those employed were men and 48.0% were women), and has widened slightly since then (see Chart 15).

On the basis of gender, in 2014/2015 men occupied 56.9% of all full-time jobs while women occupied 43.1% of full-time positions. A much larger gender gap in the percentage shares of employment is observed for persons working in part-time positions, with women occupying 66.5% and men occupying 33.5% of part-time jobs in Canada during 2014/2015. The shares of men and women occupying full-time and part-time positions have remained relatively constant in the years since the 2008 recession.

Canada’s aging demographics also contributed to significant changes to the composition of the workforce over the past decade and a half, with the number of older workers (55 and older) more than doubling from 1.5 million in 2000/2001 to 3.5 million in 2014/2015. During the same time period, the number of core-aged workers (25 to 54 years) increased only slightly from 11.0 million in 2000/2001 to 11.8 million in 2014/2015. The population of younger workers (15 to 24 years) stayed relatively constant, increasing from 2.3 million in 2000/2001 to 2.5 million in 2014/2015. The majority of job increases reported in recent years have therefore been found among demographic groups outside of the traditional "core ages" of the labour force, with Canadians 55 years and older obtaining the largest share of employment increases (see also Chart 15).

Chart 15 - Share of Employment, by Gender and Age Group, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 15: description follows
Show Data Table
15 Years and Over (left scale) 15 to 24 Years (left scale) 25 to 54 Years (left scale) 55 Years and Over (left scale) % Share of Employment - Men (right scale) % Share of Employment - Women (right scale)
1976/1977 9.8 2.5 6.1 1.1 62.7% 37.3%
1977/1978 10.0 2.6 6.2 1.1 62.3% 37.7%
1978/1979 10.3 2.7 6.5 1.2 61.6% 38.4%
1979/1980 10.8 2.8 6.8 1.2 61.0% 39.0%
1980/1981 11.1 2.8 7.0 1.2 60.3% 39.7%
1981/1982 11.3 2.8 7.2 1.2 59.5% 40.5%
1982/1983 10.9 2.5 7.1 1.2 58.6% 41.4%
1983/1984 11.1 2.5 7.4 1.2 58.1% 41.9%
1984/1985 11.4 2.5 7.6 1.2 57.9% 42.1%
1985/1986 11.8 2.6 8.0 1.2 57.4% 42.6%
1986/1987 12.1 2.6 8.3 1.2 57.2% 42.8%
1987/1988 12.5 2.6 8.6 1.3 56.9% 43.1%
1988/1989 12.8 2.6 9.0 1.3 56.3% 43.7%
1989/1990 13.0 2.5 9.3 1.3 56.0% 44.0%
1990/1991 13.0 2.4 9.4 1.3 55.4% 44.6%
1991/1992 12.8 2.2 9.4 1.2 54.9% 45.1%
1992/1993 12.7 2.1 9.4 1.2 54.7% 45.3%
1993/1994 12.8 2.1 9.5 1.2 54.6% 45.4%
1994/1995 13.2 2.1 9.8 1.3 54.7% 45.3%
1995/1996 13.3 2.1 10.0 1.3 54.6% 45.4%
1996/1997 13.5 2.1 10.1 1.3 54.5% 45.5%
1997/1998 13.8 2.0 10.4 1.4 54.5% 45.5%
1998/1999 14.1 2.1 10.6 1.4 54.1% 45.9%
1999/2000 14.5 2.2 10.8 1.5 54.1% 45.9%
2000/2001 14.8 2.3 11.0 1.5 53.9% 46.1%
2001/2002 15.0 2.3 11.0 1.6 53.7% 46.3%
2002/2003 15.4 2.4 11.2 1.8 53.4% 46.6%
2003/2004 15.7 2.4 11.3 2.0 53.2% 46.8%
2004/2005 16.0 2.5 11.4 2.1 53.2% 46.8%
2005/2006 16.2 2.5 11.4 2.2 53.2% 46.8%
2006/2007 16.5 2.6 11.6 2.4 52.9% 47.1%
2007/2008 16.9 2.6 11.7 2.5 52.7% 47.3%
2008/2009 17.0 2.6 11.7 2.7 52.6% 47.4%
2009/2010 16.7 2.4 11.5 2.8 52.0% 48.0%
2010/2011 17.0 2.4 11.6 3.0 52.3% 47.7%
2011/2012 17.3 2.5 11.7 3.1 52.4% 47.6%
2012/2013 17.5 2.5 11.8 3.2 52.3% 47.7%
2013/2014 17.7 2.5 11.8 3.4 52.3% 47.7%
2014/2015 17.8 2.5 11.8 3.5 52.4% 47.6%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour force survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001.

2.2.2 Employment, by Educational Attainment, Industry and Sector

As technology and demands from industry for more specialized skills evolve, Canadians require increasing rates of enrollment and completion of secondary and post-secondary education to improve their chances of obtaining employment. This can be seen through an examination of employment rates on the basis of educational attainment, where employment rates tend to increase for every additional level of education completed by those in the labour force, while the differences in employment rates between those with less educational attainment and the national average have risen over time (see Table 2).

Table 2 - Employment Rate, by Educational Attainment, Canada, 2004/2005 to 2014/2015
2005/ 2006 2006/ 2007 2007/ 2008 2008/ 2009 2009/ 2010 2010/ 2011 2011/ 2012 2012/ 2013 2013/ 2014 2014/ 2015
0 to 8 Years 21.5% 21.5% 21.1% 20.4% 20.1% 19.3% 19.9% 20.2% 19.6% 18.9%
Some High School 44.7% 45.0% 45.4% 44.6% 40.8% 40.3% 40.1% 39.5% 39.3% 39.0%
High School Graduate 65.4% 65.1% 65.5% 63.8% 61.6% 61.6% 61.6% 61.0% 60.5% 59.6%
Some Postsecondary 63.2% 64.0% 64.3% 63.8% 60.7% 60.8% 60.2% 60.6% 59.7% 58.5%
Postsecondary Certificate or Diploma 72.7% 72.5% 72.8% 72.4% 70.8% 71.0% 70.7% 70.5% 70.6% 70.1%
Bachelor's Degree 76.3% 76.9% 76.7% 76.0% 75.5% 75.0% 74.3% 74.6% 74.4% 74.0%
Above Bachelor's Degree 77.3% 77.0% 76.5% 76.2% 75.8% 75.0% 75.2% 75.2% 74.5% 74.1%
Canada 62.6% 63.0% 63.5% 63.0% 61.4% 61.6% 61.6% 61.8% 61.7% 61.4%
  • Source: Statistics Canada. Labour Force Survey. CANSIM Table 282-0003.

The 0.6% increase in employment in 2014/2015 came entirely from the services-producing industries (+127,900 employed persons, or +0.9%), particularly the Health Care and Social Assistance industry (+42,400, or 1.9%), Accommodation and Food Services industry (+35,500, or 3.0%), the Wholesale Trade industry (+31,400, or 5.2%) and the Education Services industry (+30,200, or 2.5%). These increases were partially offset by decreases in the Retail Trade industry (employment decline of 21,100, or -1.0%). Combined, the goods-producing industries experienced a reduction of 25,000 (-0.6%) in the number of employed persons. Despite the sharp decline in the oil price, the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry (-1,700 employment, or -0.6%) witnessed a percentage variation in 2014/2015 similar to averages reported for the other goods-producing industries.

In 2014/2015, total employment of private sector employees grew by 0.7%, compared to 0.4% for public sector employees while the number of workers defined as self-employed persons also increased by 0.4%. In total, for 2014/2015 private sector employees accounted for 64.7% of overall employment (11.5 million), followed by the public sector employees at 20.0% of employment (3.6 million) and self-employed workers at 15.4% (2.7 million), with this breakdown remaining relatively constant over recent years.

2.2.3 Employment, by Employment Type, and Union Coverage

Full-time employment grew by 0.4%, with three times the rate of growth in part-time employment (1.2%) in 2014/2015. Full-time employment accounted for 80.8% (14.4 million jobs) of all employment in Canada in 2014/2015. The remaining 19.2% (3.4 million jobs) was associated with part-time employment. Footnote 17 Canadian workers also tended, on average, to report very high average weighting of the number of hours worked at their main jobs compared to all other jobs they occupied, meaning that if a person was employed in more than one job at once they would allocate a very high share of their total actual hours worked in a given week towards the main job they occupy compared to all other jobs they worked (98.8% of actual hours worked for full-time employees were at their main job, compared to 93.5% of actual hours worked for part-time employees at their main job). Footnote 18

Two trends of note that occurred in the Canadian economy over the last decade were small and consistent annual incremental increases in the share of part-time workers in the economy (from 18.5% of employment in 2004/2005 to 19.2% in 2014/2015) and the consistent year-over-year share of all workers in the economy who are defined as self-employed (an average of 15.5% of employed Canadians who are defined as self-employed per year). Footnote 19 Given the current composition of the Canadian labour market and the eligibility criteria for EI regular benefits, one in every six workers in the Canadian economy would not be covered by EI regular benefits given the way insurable employment is defined for the purposes of the EI program. Self-employed workers are not normally considered eligible for EI regular benefits given the nature of their employment, but are eligible to claim EI special benefits provided they opt in to paying EI premiums for 52 weeks prior to making a claim for special benefits and meet other eligibility requirements.

A notable change in 2014/2015 was the decline in the total number of employees who worked in jobs that received union coverage Footnote 20 , whose total share of employees declined by 0.9% (42,600 jobs) compared to 2013/2014 (see Chart 16). This is significant in relation to the EI program given that firms with collective agreements in place tend to provide negotiated leave and benefits that often replace or complement EI special benefits. The decline in the number of unionized positions in 2014/2015 was largely driven by declines in unionized private sector jobs (-2.2%, or 43,500 jobs). This may indicate that some unionized private sector jobs that previously provided coverage for supplementary benefits through negotiated collective agreements are now covered less frequently by collective agreement provisions similar in nature to what is offered by EI special benefits. This could mean demands for special benefit coverage through the EI program could increase in future years as the number of jobs covered by negotiated supplemental benefits in collective agreements declines within the Canadian economy.

Chart 16 - Employment, by Employment Type, Sector, Union Coverage and Job Permanency, 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 16: description follows
Show Data Table
2013/2014 2014/2015
Total Employment 1.2% 0.6%
Full-time Employment 0.9% 0.4%
Part-time Employment 2.2% 1.2%
Employees 1.1% 0.6%
Public Sector Employees 0.4% 0.4%
Private Sector Employees 1.3% 0.7%
Self-employed 1.4% 0.4%
Employees, with Union Coverage -0.6% -0.9%
Public Sector, with Union Coverage 0.2% 0.0%
Private Sector, with Union Coverage -1.6% -2.2%
Employees, No Union Coverage 1.9% 1.3%
Public, Sector, No Union Coverage 1.3% 1.3%
Private Sector, No Union Coverage 2.0% 1.3%
Permanent Employees 1.5% 0.5%
Temporary Employees -1.2% 1.2%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0001 (for data on employment), 282-0077 (for data on union coverage), 282-0079 (for data on job permanency), and 282-0089 (for data on employment type).

2.2.4. Hours Worked

In 2014/2015, average hours worked per week including overtime for all employees in the Canadian economy remained unchanged at 30.4 hours compared to 2013/2014. Prior to 2013/2014, average hours worked had increased in each of the previous three years after the national average dropped to 30.0 hours per week following impacts of the 2008 recession. Hours worked matters for the administration of the EI program because EI eligibility is based in part on the number of hours of insurable employment worked in the previous year.

The distribution of hours worked by Canadian employees at all jobs they occupy had increases in the share of all workers who are working less than 35 hours per week, and declines in the share of employees working more than 35 hours per week, between 2012/2013 and 2014/2015. While the majority (56.2%) of Canadian workers continue to report working a total of 35 hours or more per week, there has been a decline of 4.7 percentage points between 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 in the share of employees with total number of hours in full-time equivalent positions. The only full-time equivalent hours category which saw increases in its share of all employees (by 2.9 percentage points between 2012/2013 and 2014/2015) were those working between 30 and 34 hours per week. The number of employees working zero hours but still defined as employed also increased by 0.3 percentage point over that time. Overall, the Canadian economy has experienced a reduction in the total number of hours worked on average in recent years with an increasing share of Canadian employees working hours very close to the cut-off between full-time and part-time hours (see Chart 17).

Chart 17 - Distribution of Total Hours Worked, All Jobs, Canada, 2012/2013 to 2014/2015
Chart 17: description follows
Show Data Table
2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
0 Hours 8.2% 8.3% 8.7%
1 to 14 Hours 6.9% 7.0% 7.2%
15 to 29 Hours 14.0% 14.7% 15.5%
30 to 34 Hours 10.0% 11.0% 13.2%
35 to 39 Hours 14.7% 14.6% 14.0%
40 Hours 22.5% 22.4% 21.2%
41 to 49 Hours 11.2% 11.0% 10.5%
50 Hours or More 12.5% 12.2% 11.6%
  • Note: Distribution reflects the actual number of hours worked in the reference week of the Labour Force Survey at all jobs occupied by Canadian employees.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0017.

The distribution of hours worked varies significantly by gender and age. By gender, women were the majority of workers for each category of hours worked up to 35 to 39 hours, while men made up the majority of all workers who worked 40 hours or more per week. By age, two trends observed were that workers aged 15 to 24 years made up the largest share (40.5% in 2014/2015) of those working between 1 to 14 hours in each reference week, and that members of the core-age groupings of the labour force (25 to 54 years) made up the largest share of workers (67.9% in 2014/2015) working zero hours on average in a given reference week. The distribution of hours worked by age group has remained relatively consistent for the Canadian economy since 2012/2013.

Employees in the Northwest Territories (33.3), Alberta (32.7), Newfoundland and Labrador (32.5) and New Brunswick (31.5) worked the most hours per week on average. In 2014/2015, employees in the Yukon (29.1), British Columbia (29.4), Nova Scotia (29.9), Prince Edward Island (30.0) and Manitoba (30.0) worked the fewest number of hours on average. There was a variance of 4.2 hours worked between the provinces and territories with the highest and lowest reported average hours worked per week (see Chart 18).

Chart 18 - Average Hours Worked Per Week (Including Overtime), by Province and Territory, Canada 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 18: description follows
Show Data Table
2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L. 32.2 32.5
P.E.I. 29.7 30
N.S. 30 29.9
N.B. 31.2 31.5
Que. 30.1 30.2
Ont. 30.3 30.2
Man. 29.6 30
Sask. 30.4 30.3
Alta. 32.7 32.7
B.C. 29.5 29.4
Y.T. 29.5 29.1
N.W.T. 32.1 33.3
Nvt. 29.5 31
National Average 30.4
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, CANSIM Table 281-0032.

Significant changes to provincial and territorial rankings for hours worked per week have occurred between 2004/2005 and 2014/2015, with the average number of hours worked increasing significantly in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia while declines were reported in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. The Northwest Territories also reported a significant average increase in hours worked since the 2008 recession, with levels returning to pre-recession levels.

Employees in goods-producing industries continued to report working 37.4 hours per week on average in 2014/2015, the same level as reported in 2013/2014. Employees in services-producing industries, meanwhile, worked 28.5 hours per week on average in 2014/2015, also the same result as in 2013/2014 (see Chart 19).

Chart 19 - Average Hours Worked Per Week (Including Overtime), by Industry, Canada, 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 19: description follows
Show Data Table
2013/2014 2014/2015
Goods Producing Industries 37.4 37.4
Forestry, Logging and Support 38.2 39.8
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 40 41
Utilities 39 40.8
Construction 37.4 37
Manufacturing 37.1 37.1
Service Producing Industries 28.5 28.5
Wholesale Trade 36.3 36
Retail Trade 26.4 26.2
Transportation and Warehousing 34.4 34.8
Finance and Insurance 28.7 30.1
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 30 30.3
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 33 32.7
Business, Building and Other Support Services 30.6 29.7
Educational Services 16.2 17
Health Care and Social Assistance 29.9 30.1
Accommodation and Food Services 22.8 23.1
Information, Cultural and Recreation Industries 27.8 27.3
Other Services (Except Public Administration) 28.8 29.1
National Average 30.4
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, CANSIM Table 281-0032.

2.2.5 Wages

Including payments received by employees for overtime, Canada’s average weekly nominal earnings grew by 2.7% to $942 in 2014/2015, compared with $917 in 2013/2014. Footnote 21 Wage payments determine the EI premiums paid by employers and employees, as well as the level of benefits that claimants can receive, calculated as a proportion of a claimant’s wage payments received up to the maximum insurable earnings amount.

In 2014/2015, similar to previous years, Alberta reported the highest average weekly earnings for a province at $1,157 per week followed by Newfoundland and Labrador ($1,001), Saskatchewan ($982) and Ontario ($945). Average earnings in the six other provinces continued to fall below the national average ($942). The jurisdiction with the highest average weekly earnings was the Northwest Territories at $1,409. Every Canadian territory reported higher average nominal earnings than all provinces in Canada except Alberta (see Chart 20).

Chart 20 - Average Weekly Nominal Earnings, by Province and Territory, Canada, 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 20: description follows
Show Data Table
2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L. $960 $1,001
P.E.I. $759 $780
N.S. $803 $824
N.B. $809 $841
Que. $837 $854
Ont. $925 $945
Man. $834 $868
Sask. $949 $982
Alta. $1,119 $1,157
B.C. $881 $901
Y.T. $1,020 $1,048
N.W.T. $1,350 $1,409
Nvt. $1,190 $1,245
Canada $917 $942
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, CANSIM 281-0026.

Six provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) exceeded the national average wage increase of 2.7%, while Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia experienced the lowest wage growth (2.1%, 2.2% and 2.3% respectively). Chart 21 compares the increase of nominal earnings by province and territory to the inflation rate for that jurisdiction, measured by the Consumer Price Index. Ontario was, marginally, the only province that experienced earnings growth that was lower than the growth in its Consumer Price Index from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015.

Chart 21 - Average Increases in Weekly Nominal Earnings and Consumer Price Index, by Province and Territory, Change from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 21: description follows
Show Data Table
% Change in Earnings - 2013/2014 to 2014/2015 % Change in CPI - 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Canada 2.7% 1.9%
N.L. 4.3% 1.4%
P.E.I. 2.8% 0.5%
N.S. 2.7% 1.3%
N.B. 4.0% 1.1%
Que. 2.1% 1.5%
Ont. 2.2% 2.3%
Man. 4.0% 1.5%
Sask. 3.4% 2.1%
Alta. 3.4% 2.0%
B.C. 2.3% 1.3%
Y.T. 3.0% 0.4%
N.W.T. 5.2% 1.6%
Nvt. 4.6% 1.3%
  • Sources: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, CANSIM Table 281-0026 (for data on nominal earnings), and Statistics Canada, Consumer Price Index Measures, CANSIM Table 326-0020 (for data on CPI).

For 2014/2015, employees in the goods-producing sectors continued to report higher average nominal weekly earnings ($1,223) than employees in the services sector ($878). Employees in the Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction industry had the highest average weekly earnings ($2,064) followed by workers in Utilities ($1,805). The Accommodation and Food Services industry, meanwhile, had the lowest average nominal weekly earnings for the second consecutive year ($372), followed by workers in Retail Trade ($544). In 2014/2015, growth in nominal weekly earnings varied considerably across industries from a low of -0.1% (Education Services industry) to a high of 7.7% (Mining, Quarrying and Oil and Gas Extraction industry) (see Chart 22).

Chart 22 - Average Weekly Nominal Earnings, by Industry, Canada, 2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Chart 22: description follows
Show Data Table
2013/2014 to 2014/2015
Forestry, logging and support 3.4%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 7.7%
Utilities 7.5%
Construction 1.6%
Manufacturing 2.3%
Wholesale trade 4.4%
Retail trade 2.3%
Transportation and warehousing 4.4%
Information and cultural industries 2.5%
Finance and insurance 5.3%
Real estate and rental and leasing 6.0%
Professional, scientific and technical services 2.9%
Educational services -0.1%
Health care and social assistance 2.4%
Accommodation and food services 2.4%
Other services (except public administration) 1.3%
Public administration 2.0%
Industrial aggregate excluding unclassified businesses 2.7%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, CANSIM Table 281-0026.

When looking at the change in wage rates in Canada for 2014/2015 on the basis of gender, men earned an average hourly wage of $26.44 while women earned an average hourly wage of $22.78, a difference of $3.66 per hour that is equivalent to 16.1% of the average hourly wage of women.

When examining median hourly wages Footnote 22 , men earned a median hourly rate of $23.34 (a difference of $3.10 less than the reported average hourly wage rate for men) while women earned a median wage rate of $19.82 (a difference of $2.96 less than reported average hourly wage rate for women). While hourly wages have increased at a similar rate for both men and women over the last fifteen years, the gap in hourly wages between men and women has persisted (see Chart 23).

Chart 23 - Average and Median Nominal Wage Rates, by Gender, Canada, 1997/1998 to 2014/2015
Chart 23: description follows
Show Data Table
Average Hourly Wage Rate - Men Median Hourly Wage Rate - Men Average Hourly Wage Rate - Women Median Hourly Wage Rate - Women
1997/1998 17.12 15.72 14 12.42
1998/1999 17.43 16.09 14.16 12.65
1999/2000 17.93 16.46 14.54 12.9
2000/2001 18.56 16.98 14.92 13.35
2001/2002 19.11 17.42 15.49 13.88
2002/2003 19.47 17.62 15.93 14.18
2003/2004 19.86 17.94 16.41 14.65
2004/2005 20.32 18.32 16.87 14.92
2005/2006 20.91 18.74 17.53 15.36
2006/2007 21.54 19.31 18.06 15.81
2007/2008 22.44 19.89 18.8 16.59
2008/2009 23.38 20.58 19.61 17.33
2009/2010 23.95 21.23 20.29 17.77
2010/2011 24.35 21.6 20.79 18.24
2011/2012 24.75 21.84 21.29 18.47
2012/2013 25.5 22.52 21.86 19.02
2013/2014 26.02 22.85 22.36 19.51
2014/2015 26.44 23.34 22.78 19.82
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour force survey, CANSIM Table 282-0073.

The decline in the number of unionized private sector jobs in 2014/2015 (see Chart 16) may lead to future declines in the rate of growth in reported average wages for Canadian workers, as unionized jobs have historically paid higher wages to employees on both an average and median basis. Should the number of unionized private sector jobs within the economy decline at equivalent rates to what was observed in 2014/2015 in future years, it could have an effect on the reported levels of average and median wage growth within the Canadian economy, which would incrementally decline on an average and median basis. The average hourly wage of a unionized employee was $28.27 in 2014/2015, compared with average hourly wages for employees with no union coverage worth $23.03, a difference of $5.24 per hour. A larger wage gap was observed when measuring median hourly wages, with unionized employees earning $26.12 in 2014/2015 compared to median wages of non-unionized employees at $19.05, a gap of $7.07 per hour (see Chart 24).

The results above are significant for the EI program since wage payments determine both the EI premiums paid by employers and employees, as well as the level of benefits that claimants can receive, calculated as a proportion of a claimant’s wage payments received up to the maximum insurable earnings amount. As earnings change, the level of associated average and median earnings received by employees could also grow at a slower rate on average. This finding, if the trend observed in 2014/2015 continues, could influence the amount of EI premiums paid on average by both employees and employers into the EI operating account as wage growth moderates, and result in slower growth in the rate of maximum insurable earning increases for EI claimants. More demand for EI claims and lower average claim amounts could also occur as the rising share of all employees working in non-unionized positions could create the potential for reduced job permanency.

Chart 24 - Average and Median Nominal Wage Rates, by Union Coverage, Canada, 2014/2015
Chart 24: description follows
Show Data Table
2014/2015
Average Wage -All Employees 24.63
Average Wage - Unionized Employees 28.27
Average Wage - No Union Coverage 23.03
Median Wage - All Employees 21.38
Median Wage - Unionized Employees 26.12
Median Wage - No Union Coverage 19.05
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0073.
2.2.5.1 Workers Earning Minimum Wage

The share of employees earning minimum wage varies across Canada given the specific characteristics of each jurisdiction’s labour market and specific policies of provincial governments, which are responsible for setting minimum wage rates. The frequency of minimum wage increases over time has been inconsistent, with provinces choosing to adopt increases at different times based on economic and labour market considerations specific to their jurisdiction, which can change over time. Minimum wages across Canada varied between $10.20 and $11.00 per hour in 2014 (see Table 3), and some provinces have chosen to implement additional increases since that time.

Table 3 - Minimum Wage Rates and Share of Total Persons Employed Earning Minimum Wage, by Province, Canada, 2014
Hourly Minimum Wage Rate1 Hourly Minimum Wage Rate as a Share (%) of Average Hourly Wage, by Province2 Share (%) of Employees in Each Province Paid at Minimum Wage3
Newfoundland and Labrador $10.25 46.4% 5.4%
Prince Edward Island $10.35 46.8% 6.1%
Nova Scotia $10.40 47.1% 6.7%
New Brunswick $10.30 46.6% 5.7%
Quebec $10.35 44.9% 6.0%
Ontario $11.00 44.3% 10.9%
Manitoba $10.70 47.9% 5.1%
Saskatchewan $10.20 40.3% 3.5%
Alberta $10.20 36.3% 1.7%
British Columbia $10.25 42.2% 5.9%
Canada4 Not Applicable Not Applicable 7.2%
  • 1 Wage rates listed in this row are based on a customized search of the ESDC Labour Program’s database of historical minimum wages for adult workers in Canada for the year 2014, reflecting the latest change in minimum wage rates reported for all provinces during 2014.
  • 2 Data is not available on a provincial basis for average hourly wages in Canada’s Atlantic provinces for the CANSIM Table cited. The share of minimum wage for each Atlantic province listed in this column is based on minimum wage rates for each province as a share of the average hourly wage for the Atlantic region for 2014 ($22.10). Data provided on hourly wages excludes calculations for Canada’s territories.
  • Source: Statistics Canada. Labour Force Survey. CANSIM Table 282-0233.
  • 3 Statistics Canada. "Minimum Wage in Canada Since 1975." The Daily – Canadian Megatrends. January 2016.
  • 4 Currently, the Government of Canada has no defined minimum wage rate for federally regulated employees, choosing instead to entrench the applicable general adult minimum wage rate for workers covered by Part III of the Canada Labour Code for any federally regulated work undertaken in that province or territory. As a result, a minimum wage rate for Canada is not provided. The percentage listed reflects aggregated totals of all provincial data on minimum wage earners.
  • Source: ESDC. "Customized Search for General Minimum Wage Rates in Canada." Labour Program. 2015.

The national average for the share of all employees earning minimum wage is heavily influenced by results reported for Ontario, the only jurisdiction to report a share of employees earning minimum wages that was above the national average, at 10.9%. In contrast, for 2014 the provinces that reported the lowest shares of total employment positions earning minimum wages were in Alberta (1.7%), Saskatchewan (3.5%) and Manitoba (5.1%). The high average for Canada in comparison to averages for most provinces is explained in part by Ontario’s relative labour market size. Ontario has also introduced gradual increases to its minimum wage rate in recent years. As minimum wage rates increase, the proportion of employees paid at minimum wage also tends to increase because some employees who were earning wages marginally above the minimum wage rate before increases are introduced then join the population of those earning minimum wages, if their wages are not increased proportionately. Footnote 23

According to the OECD, minimum wage rates are a key policy tool to assist in preventing workers and their families from falling into poverty, and the success of minimum wage rates depends on the level of the wage paid and amount of net earnings received. Canada’s minimum wage rates are currently set at a level, on average, worth 44.1% of reported median wage rates for the Canadian economy, higher than the level reported for the United States (37.3%). Workers in Canada also tend to receive net wages very close to the wage rates paid by employers, meaning few additional opportunities are available to address potential income shortfalls through tax benefits and subsidies. Footnote 24 After adjusting for inflation, the average value of minimum wage in Canada for 2014 was $10.39 per hour, a level comparable to the real value of minimum wage earned in the late 1970s. Footnote 25

A significant recent trend in the distribution of minimum wage earners is the large increase in the share of employees between the ages of 15 and 19 earning minimum wage, and those over the age of 65 between 2013 and 2014. Significant declines in the share of workers earning minimum wage were reported for members of the core-age demographics of the labour force over the same time period.

Chart 25 - Share of Employees Earning Minimum Wage, by Age Group, Canada, 2013 and 2014
Chart 25: description follows
Show Data Table
2013 2014
15 to 19 Years 39.8% 48.4%
20 to 24 Years 21.0% 15.0%
25 to 34 Years 12.0% 4.0%
35 to 64 Years 24.8% 5.1%
65 Years and Over 2.5% 7.3%
  • Source: Galarneau, D. and E. Fecteau. 2014. "The Ups and Downs of Minimum Wage," Insights on Canadian Society, Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

2.3 Unemployment

For the fifth year in a row, the unemployment rate Footnote 26 in Canada declined, falling below 7.0% for the first time since the end of the 2008 recession. The unemployment rate was 6.9% in 2014/2015, a decline of 0.1 percentage point from 2013/2014. In 2014/2015, there were 1.31 million people unemployed Footnote 27 on average compared to 1.34 million in 2013/2014, representing a 2.3% decrease. The national annual unemployment rate remains 0.9 percentage point above the rate of 6.0% reported in 2007/2008 prior to the start of the 2008 recession, which was the lowest annual unemployment rate observed since 1976/1977.

The duration of unemployment periods fluctuates for various reasons, including changes in labour supply and demand, changing demands for skills in the labour market, and the seasonality of various occupations.

In 2014/2015, the average duration of unemployment Footnote 28 in Canada decreased slightly to 20.6 weeks from the level of 21.1 weeks observed in 2013/2014. The average duration of unemployment reported for 2014/2015 was the same as the rate observed in 2012/2013. Duration of unemployment tends to be correlated with movements in the unemployment rate and sharp spikes in average unemployment duration tend to follow recessionary periods. However the unemployment duration reported annually has remained relatively constant since 2010/2011 and has not followed historical trends observed in previous economic recoveries where the average duration of unemployment fell over the recovery period (see Chart 26).

Chart 26 - Unemployment Rate and Duration of Unemployment, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 26: description follows
Show Data Table
Unemployment Rate Average Weeks Unemployed, No Top-code Average Weeks Unemployed, Top-code of 99 Weeks
1976/1977 7.3% No data 14.0
1977/1978 8.2% No data 14.6
1978/1979 8.3% No data 15.5
1979/1980 7.4% No data 14.7
1980/1981 7.5% No data 15.0
1981/1982 8.0% No data 15.2
1982/1983 12.0% No data 18.7
1983/1984 11.6% No data 22.0
1984/1985 11.2% No data 21.7
1985/1986 10.2% No data 21.4
1986/1987 9.5% No data 20.4
1987/1988 8.4% No data 19.7
1988/1989 7.7% No data 18.5
1989/1990 7.6% No data 17.7
1990/1991 8.8% No data 17.0
1991/1992 10.4% No data 20.4
1992/1993 11.3% No data 23.4
1993/1994 11.4% No data 25.4
1994/1995 10.0% No data 25.7
1995/1996 9.5% No data 24.2
1996/1997 9.6% No data 23.6
1997/1998 8.9% 26.0 21.9
1998/1999 8.1% 23.4 19.9
1999/2000 7.3% 21.9 18.6
2000/2001 6.9% 19.2 16.6
2001/2002 7.5% 18.1 15.6
2002/2003 7.5% 18.1 16.0
2003/2004 7.6% 17.5 15.9
2004/2005 7.1% 16.9 15.6
2005/2006 6.6% 17.1 15.2
2006/2007 6.3% 16.4 14.4
2007/2008 6.0% 15.3 14.0
2008/2009 6.6% 14.9 13.7
2009/2010 8.5% 18.4 16.8
2010/2011 7.9% 20.4 18.6
2011/2012 7.4% 21.1 18.7
2012/2013 7.2% 20.6 18.2
2013/2014 7.0% 21.1 18.5
2014/2015 6.9% 20.6 18.2
  • Note: Totals listed in the text and other charts in Chapter 1 for average unemployment duration reflect average unemployment durations listed under the No Top-code category. See Footnote 26 for more information.
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Tables 282-0047 (for data on duration of unemployment), and 282-0001 (for data on unemployment rate).

2.3.1 Unemployment Rate and Duration, by Province and Territory, Gender and Age

Similar to 2013/2014, unemployment rates in Western Canada remained below the national average due to the region’s strong economic performance in recent years. For the sixth consecutive year, the province of Saskatchewan recorded the lowest unemployment rate (4.0%) in 2014/2015 followed by Alberta (4.9%), Manitoba (5.4%) and British Columbia (6.0%) (see Chart 27).

Chart 27 - Unemployment Rate, by Province and Territory, 2012/2013 to 2014/2015
Chart 27: description follows
Show Data Table
2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L. 12.1% 11.6% 12.2%
P.E.I. 11.2% 11.5% 10.5%
N.S. 9.4% 9.0% 8.9%
N.B. 10.5% 10.0% 10.1%
Que. 7.6% 7.7% 7.6%
Ont. 7.9% 7.5% 7.2%
Man. 5.2% 5.5% 5.4%
Sask. 4.5% 4.2% 4.0%
Alta. 4.5% 4.6% 4.9%
B.C. 6.8% 6.5% 6.0%
Y.T. 6.8% 5.1% 4.6%
N.W.T. 8.0% 7.8% 8.1%
Nvt. 14.7% 14.2% 13.4%
Canada 6.9%
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0087.

Quebec residents experienced the longest average duration of unemployment at 23.5 weeks in 2014/2015, followed by Ontario residents at 21.6 weeks. All other provinces were below the national average of 20.6 weeks, while the shortest duration was observed in Saskatchewan at 13.3 weeks, followed by Alberta at 14.1 weeks. Compared to 2013/2014, Newfoundland and Labrador registered the largest increase in average duration of unemployment (+0.4 week), followed by Prince Edward Island (+0.3 week) and New Brunswick (+0.2 week). All other provinces reported decreases in the average duration of unemployment, led by Manitoba (-1.0 week), Saskatchewan (-1.0 week) and British Columbia (-0.9 week) (see Chart 28).

Chart 28 - Duration of Unemployment by Province, Canada, 2012/2013 to 2014/2015
Chart 28: description follows
Show Data Table
2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
N.L. 16.9 16.8 17.2
P.E.I. 13.7 15.9 16.2
N.S. 17.2 19.9 19.3
N.B. 16.5 19.4 19.6
Que. 23.3 23.9 23.5
Ont. 22 22 21.6
Man. 16.3 17.2 16.2
Sask. 15.2 14.3 13.3
Alta. 13.1 14.3 14.1
B.C. 19.4 20.7 19.8
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0047.

Men (7.4%) experienced a higher unemployment rate than that for women (6.3%) in 2014/2015. The unemployment rate for men declined for the fifth consecutive year while the unemployment rate for women declined for the fourth consecutive year. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point for men and by 0.2 percentage point for women in 2014/2015 when compared to 2013/2014.

As shown in Chart 29, the gender unemployment rate gap reversed itself in 1990/1991. Since that time, unemployment rates for women have remained consistently lower than unemployment rates for men by 0.9 percentage point per year, on average. The unemployment rate for men versus women in 2009/2010 reached a gap of 2.5 percentage points, the largest gap recorded since comparable data have been collected, but has since declined as economic conditions improved. Men have also historically experienced longer average durations of unemployment than women.

Chart 29 - Unemployment Rate and Duration of Unemployment, by Gender, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 29: description follows
Show Data Table
Unemployment Rate - Men Unemployment Rate - Women Average Weeks Unemployed - No Top Code - Men Average Weeks Unemployed - No Top Code - Women Average Weeks Unemployed, Top Code of 99 Weeks - Men Average Weeks Unemployed, Top Code of 99 Weeks - Women
1976/1977 6.7% 8.4% No data No data 14.3 13.6
1977/1978 7.6% 9.3% No data No data 14.6 14.7
1978/1979 7.5% 9.5% No data No data 16 15
1979/1980 6.7% 8.5% No data No data 15.1 14.3
1980/1981 7.0% 8.2% No data No data 15.6 14.3
1981/1982 7.7% 8.5% No data No data 16.1 14.2
1982/1983 12.4% 11.5% No data No data 19.4 17.6
1983/1984 11.9% 11.3% No data No data 23.5 19.8
1984/1985 11.3% 11.2% No data No data 23 20
1985/1986 10.1% 10.4% No data No data 23 19.4
1986/1987 9.4% 9.7% No data No data 21.6 18.8
1987/1988 8.1% 8.8% No data No data 21.4 17.8
1988/1989 7.4% 8.1% No data No data 19.8 17.2
1989/1990 7.4% 7.7% No data No data 18.9 16.3
1990/1991 9.0% 8.6% No data No data 17.6 16.4
1991/1992 11.0% 9.7% No data No data 21.2 19.3
1992/1993 12.1% 10.3% No data No data 24.8 21.5
1993/1994 11.9% 10.6% No data No data 26.9 23.4
1994/1995 10.4% 9.6% No data No data 27.4 23.6
1995/1996 9.8% 9.0% No data No data 25.6 22.5
1996/1997 9.9% 9.3% No data No data 24.8 22.4
1997/1998 9.0% 8.8% 28.5 23.1 23.6 19.8
1998/1999 8.4% 7.7% 25.1 21.3 21.1 18.4
1999/2000 7.5% 7.0% 24 19.4 19.9 17
2000/2001 7.1% 6.7% 20.5 17.6 17.5 15.6
2001/2002 7.9% 7.0% 19.7 16.1 16.4 14.6
2002/2003 7.9% 7.1% 19.3 16.5 16.8 14.9
2003/2004 7.9% 7.1% 18.7 15.9 17 14.5
2004/2005 7.3% 6.8% 18 15.6 16.3 14.7
2005/2006 6.8% 6.4% 17.8 16.3 15.6 14.7
2006/2007 6.5% 5.9% 16.9 15.7 14.7 14.1
2007/2008 6.3% 5.6% 16.8 13.5 15 12.7
2008/2009 7.3% 5.9% 15.8 13.6 14.3 13
2009/2010 9.6% 7.1% 19.3 17 17.5 15.7
2010/2011 8.5% 7.2% 21.6 19 19.5 17.6
2011/2012 7.9% 7.0% 22.6 19.2 19.6 17.7
2012/2013 7.6% 6.7% 21.2 19.9 18.6 17.7
2013/2014 7.5% 6.5% 21.9 20.2 18.9 18.1
2014/2015 7.4% 6.3% 21.5 19.5 18.6 17.7
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Tables 282-0047 (for data on duration of unemployment), and 282-0001 (for data on unemployment rate).

In 2014/2015, the unemployment rate for individuals between the ages of 25 and 54 decreased by 0.1 percentage point to reach 5.7%, while the rate for individuals 55 years and older fell by 0.3 percentage point to also reach 5.7%. Individuals aged 15 to 24 saw their unemployment rate decrease by 0.3 percentage point to 13.3% in 2014/2015.

The youth unemployment rate still remains more than double the unemployment rates reported for core-aged and older workers. However the gap in the unemployment rates between youth and core-aged workers declined from 7.8 percentage points in 2013/14 to 7.6 percentage points in 2014/2015, the narrowest gap observed between these age cohorts since 2008/2009. Although young Canadians continued to face higher unemployment rates than older cohorts in 2014/2015, the average duration of unemployment for younger workers was significantly lower, at 12.1 weeks, than the durations reported for core-aged and older workers, at 22.6 and 29.9 weeks respectively (see Chart 30). In other words, unemployment periods generally last longer for people in older age cohorts, although they are less likely to be unemployed than their younger counterparts.

Chart 30 - Unemployment Rate and Duration of Unemployment, by Age Group, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 30: description follows
Show Data Table
Unemployment Rate - 15-24 Years Unemployment Rate- 25-54 Years Unemployment Rate - 55 Years and Over Average Weeks Unemployed - No Top Code - 15 to 24 Years Average Weeks Unemployed - No Top Code - 25 to 54 Years Average Weeks Unemployed - No Top Code - 55 Years and Over
1976/1977 12.7% 5.5% 4.0% No data No data No data
1977/1978 14.1% 6.2% 4.9% No data No data No data
1978/1979 13.9% 6.3% 5.0% No data No data No data
1979/1980 12.5% 5.7% 4.4% No data No data No data
1980/1981 12.8% 5.7% 4.2% No data No data No data
1981/1982 13.6% 6.3% 4.4% No data No data No data
1982/1983 19.5% 9.8% 7.2% No data No data No data
1983/1984 18.7% 9.7% 7.3% No data No data No data
1984/1985 17.0% 9.7% 7.6% No data No data No data
1985/1986 15.7% 8.8% 7.4% No data No data No data
1986/1987 14.4% 8.3% 6.8% No data No data No data
1987/1988 12.5% 7.4% 6.4% No data No data No data
1988/1989 11.4% 6.9% 5.6% No data No data No data
1989/1990 11.1% 6.8% 5.6% No data No data No data
1990/1991 13.5% 7.9% 6.0% No data No data No data
1991/1992 16.0% 9.4% 7.8% No data No data No data
1992/1993 17.2% 10.2% 8.8% No data No data No data
1993/1994 17.2% 10.2% 9.4% No data No data No data
1994/1995 15.2% 9.1% 8.2% No data No data No data
1995/1996 15.0% 8.4% 7.4% No data No data No data
1996/1997 15.6% 8.5% 7.3% No data No data No data
1997/1998 16.2% 7.6% 6.7% 13.6 30.1 41.4
1998/1999 14.8% 6.9% 6.2% 12.4 27.1 36.7
1999/2000 13.7% 6.2% 5.1% 11.1 25.4 39.3
2000/2001 12.6% 5.8% 5.2% 10 22.6 29.7
2001/2002 13.2% 6.4% 5.7% 9.5 21 27.7
2002/2003 13.4% 6.4% 5.9% 9.1 20.4 33
2003/2004 13.8% 6.4% 5.8% 9.4 19.6 30.2
2004/2005 13.1% 6.0% 5.4% 8.9 19.7 25.3
2005/2006 12.2% 5.6% 5.1% 9 19.3 28
2006/2007 11.5% 5.2% 5.1% 8 18.6 27.2
2007/2008 11.2% 5.0% 4.8% 7.8 18 22.1
2008/2009 12.4% 5.5% 5.4% 7.9 16.9 23.1
2009/2010 15.6% 7.2% 6.6% 10.4 20 29.6
2010/2011 14.6% 6.7% 6.4% 11 22.7 30.6
2011/2012 14.2% 6.2% 6.2% 11.3 22.9 34.2
2012/2013 14.3% 6.0% 5.9% 11.4 23.2 29.9
2013/2014 13.6% 5.8% 6.0% 12.1 23.1 31
2014/2015 13.3% 5.7% 5.7% 12.1 22.6 29.9
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Tables 282-0047 (for data on duration of unemployment), and 282-0001 (for data on unemployment rate).

2.3.2 Unemployment, by Educational Attainment, and Reason

In 2014/2015, the unemployment rate among individuals with a university degree Footnote 29 was 4.8%, compared with 5.4% for those with a post-secondary certificate or diploma Footnote 30 while the unemployment rate was 8.2% for those who completed high-school (including those with at least partially completed post-secondary education) and 13.6% for those who have partial high school education or less. Footnote 31

Unemployment can result from a number of factors and the reasons for a person’s unemployment are a key factor in determining eligibility for EI benefits. Footnote 32 Generally, benefits are only available to individuals who have lost their job for reasons outside their control or who left their job with just cause. In 2014/2015, persons who became unemployed because they lost their job (job losers) accounted for the largest share of the unemployed population in Canada (43.5%); however, this share declined slightly from totals reported in 2013/2014 (43.8%). Individuals who were unemployed because they left their job (job leavers) accounted for the smallest share of the unemployed population (18.6%) although their share of the total unemployed population increased the most (+0.7 percentage point) between 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.

The share of unemployed persons classified as ‘job leavers’ is sometimes referred to by policy makers as a potential indicator of improving economic conditions. Footnote 33 An increasing rate of workers leaving their jobs voluntarily can indicate that conditions within the labour market have improved and workers are able to find employment positions which they believe would better meet their needs or offer improved working conditions. Footnote 34

The share of job leavers who form part of the unemployed population has remained more constant year over year since the end of the 2008 recession. This observation is not consistent with trends in the share of unemployed workers defined as ‘job leavers’ during previous economic recoveries for Canada, which saw the share of 'job leavers' steadily increase in years after the recession of the early 1980s, and slow but steady increases during the economic recovery of the early 1990s (see Chart 31).

An inverse relationship is seen between the unemployed population defined as 'job leavers' and those defined as having not worked in the last year or never worked, in that when the share of 'job leavers' increases, the share of those who have not worked in the last year or never worked tends to decline. This could potentially indicate that the share of job leavers in the Canadian economy tends to increase as competition for positions within the labour market is less intensive, and when people tend to be unemployed for longer time periods. This relationship could indicate that in recent years employed workers were less likely to leave their jobs to pursue other potential job opportunities as they were not as confident of being able to find new work arrangements to meet their needs.

Individuals who have not worked in the last year or never worked accounted for 37.9% of the unemployed in 2014/2015. As shown in Chart 29, totals for each grouping of the unemployed, by reason, were similar to figures reported in the last four years. However, these figures differ significantly from pre-recession figures reported in 2007/2008. The most notable change since the 2008 recession is in the share of unemployed who have not worked in the last year or never worked, which increased by 7.7 percentage points between 2007/2008 and 2014/2015. The share of ‘job leavers’ between 2007/2008 and 2014/2015 declined by 5.6 percentage points, while the share of ‘job losers’ declined by 2.2 percentage points during that time.

Chart 31 - Share of Unemployed Population, by Reason of Unemployment, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 31: description follows
Show Data Table
Job Leavers Job Losers Have Not Worked in Last Year or Never Worked
1976/1977 30.1% 50.9% 19.0%
1977/1978 26.4% 53.0% 20.6%
1978/1979 27.0% 51.3% 21.7%
1979/1980 26.7% 51.5% 21.8%
1980/1981 27.2% 51.7% 21.1%
1981/1982 25.0% 54.5% 20.5%
1982/1983 17.6% 60.3% 22.1%
1983/1984 16.5% 55.0% 28.5%
1984/1985 18.6% 53.8% 27.5%
1985/1986 21.1% 52.8% 26.1%
1986/1987 21.9% 53.8% 24.4%
1987/1988 24.1% 52.2% 23.7%
1988/1989 27.0% 51.2% 21.8%
1989/1990 26.2% 53.1% 20.7%
1990/1991 23.4% 57.6% 19.0%
1991/1992 19.1% 57.3% 23.6%
1992/1993 15.9% 55.3% 28.8%
1993/1994 15.5% 51.5% 33.0%
1994/1995 15.7% 49.4% 35.0%
1995/1996 15.9% 50.4% 33.6%
1996/1997 16.2% 47.5% 36.4%
1997/1998 17.7% 44.4% 37.9%
1998/1999 18.0% 46.5% 35.5%
1999/2000 19.0% 46.9% 34.1%
2000/2001 21.5% 44.4% 34.1%
2001/2002 20.8% 47.2% 32.0%
2002/2003 21.5% 47.3% 31.2%
2003/2004 21.7% 47.0% 31.2%
2004/2005 22.5% 45.6% 32.0%
2005/2006 22.2% 45.4% 32.4%
2006/2007 23.1% 45.4% 31.6%
2007/2008 24.2% 45.7% 30.1%
2008/2009 22.1% 48.9% 29.0%
2009/2010 18.0% 51.7% 30.4%
2010/2011 17.6% 45.4% 37.0%
2011/2012 18.2% 42.4% 39.4%
2012/2013 18.4% 42.9% 38.7%
2013/2014 17.9% 43.8% 38.3%
2014/2015 18.6% 43.5% 37.8%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0216.

2.3.3 The Long-term Unemployed

In 2014/2015, a large majority of unemployed people (76.4%) were unemployed for 26 weeks or less, with approximately one third (33.8%) of the unemployed population being without work for 4 weeks or less. Those unemployed for 52 weeks or more, defined as the long-term unemployed, represented 12.1% of the unemployed population in 2014/2015 and would therefore be considered ineligible for EI regular benefits (see Chart 32). Eligibility for EI regular benefits is based on the amount of hours of insurable employment that an individual has accumulated in the previous 52 weeks which, by definition, would exclude the long-term unemployed from being eligible for benefits.

Chart 32 - Long-term Unemployment as a Share of Total Unemployed, Canada 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 32: description follows
Show Data Table
Long-term Unemployed as a Share of Total Unemployed Population
1976/1977 4.0%
1977/1978 4.5%
1978/1979 5.3%
1979/1980 5.2%
1980/1981 5.3%
1981/1982 5.6%
1982/1983 8.1%
1983/1984 12.4%
1984/1985 11.8%
1985/1986 11.6%
1986/1987 10.4%
1987/1988 9.9%
1988/1989 8.8%
1989/1990 7.8%
1990/1991 7.1%
1991/1992 10.2%
1992/1993 14.0%
1993/1994 16.7%
1994/1995 17.5%
1995/1996 15.9%
1996/1997 16.3%
1997/1998 15.0%
1998/1999 12.9%
1999/2000 11.2%
2000/2001 10.3%
2001/2002 9.0%
2002/2003 9.3%
2003/2004 9.6%
2004/2005 9.1%
2005/2006 8.8%
2006/2007 8.0%
2007/2008 7.0%
2008/2009 6.8%
2009/2010 8.6%
2010/2011 12.1%
2011/2012 13.1%
2012/2013 12.2%
2013/2014 12.2%
2014/2015 12.1%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0047.

The share of the long-term unemployed population has almost doubled since the beginning of the 2008 recession. This share, however, did not increase to levels seen following the recession of the early 1990s when it peaked at 17.5% in 1994/1995. The rate of decline in the share of long-term unemployed has also been slower following the 2008 recession than in previous recovery periods for which data are available. A majority of unemployed Canadians (60.9%) in 2014/2015 found employment within three months of beginning their search (see Chart 33).

Chart 33 - Share of Total Unemployment, by Search Duration, Canada, 1976/1977 to 2014/2015
Chart 33: description follows
Show Data Table
1 to 4 Weeks 5 to 13 Weeks 14 to 25 Weeks 26 to 51 Weeks 52 Weeks or More Duration Unknown
1976/1977 31.3% 31.1% 18.8% 10.7% 4.0% 4.0%
1977/1978 30.5% 30.5% 19.5% 11.5% 4.5% 3.4%
1978/1979 29.6% 30.2% 19.2% 12.3% 5.3% 3.4%
1979/1980 32.7% 30.2% 17.6% 11.1% 5.2% 3.4%
1980/1981 32.2% 29.8% 18.1% 11.3% 5.3% 3.3%
1981/1982 32.2% 30.1% 17.7% 11.2% 5.6% 3.2%
1982/1983 24.8% 28.2% 20.7% 16.2% 8.1% 2.0%
1983/1984 23.8% 25.9% 18.9% 17.1% 12.4% 1.9%
1984/1985 25.8% 26.0% 18.6% 15.8% 11.8% 2.1%
1985/1986 26.9% 26.3% 18.2% 14.9% 11.6% 2.2%
1986/1987 28.1% 26.7% 18.1% 14.7% 10.4% 2.1%
1987/1988 29.1% 26.9% 17.7% 13.8% 9.9% 2.5%
1988/1989 30.1% 27.3% 17.9% 13.1% 8.8% 2.8%
1989/1990 30.8% 27.8% 17.5% 13.3% 7.8% 2.8%
1990/1991 29.8% 28.9% 19.0% 12.8% 7.1% 2.3%
1991/1992 25.5% 26.6% 19.6% 16.4% 10.2% 1.6%
1992/1993 24.0% 25.3% 18.3% 16.9% 14.0% 1.5%
1993/1994 23.4% 24.8% 17.7% 15.6% 16.7% 1.8%
1994/1995 24.6% 24.5% 16.8% 14.1% 17.5% 2.5%
1995/1996 26.1% 26.2% 17.1% 12.3% 15.9% 2.5%
1996/1997 29.6% 24.1% 15.5% 12.0% 16.3% 2.5%
1997/1998 31.7% 25.0% 14.8% 10.4% 15.0% 3.2%
1998/1999 32.0% 26.8% 15.3% 9.5% 12.9% 3.5%
1999/2000 32.7% 27.2% 15.6% 9.4% 11.2% 3.9%
2000/2001 35.8% 27.8% 14.0% 7.4% 10.3% 4.6%
2001/2002 36.1% 28.5% 14.5% 7.6% 9.0% 4.4%
2002/2003 36.2% 27.6% 14.5% 8.3% 9.3% 4.2%
2003/2004 36.5% 27.3% 14.3% 7.8% 9.6% 4.4%
2004/2005 37.3% 27.2% 14.0% 7.7% 9.1% 4.7%
2005/2006 37.8% 27.7% 13.7% 7.3% 8.8% 4.7%
2006/2007 39.6% 27.7% 12.7% 6.6% 8.0% 5.3%
2007/2008 40.3% 27.3% 13.1% 7.2% 7.0% 5.2%
2008/2009 39.8% 28.0% 13.5% 7.1% 6.8% 4.8%
2009/2010 31.9% 27.8% 17.1% 10.8% 8.6% 3.7%
2010/2011 31.9% 26.4% 15.2% 10.3% 12.1% 4.1%
2011/2012 33.5% 26.1% 14.2% 9.1% 13.1% 4.1%
2012/2013 33.8% 26.4% 14.9% 8.4% 12.2% 4.3%
2013/2014 32.8% 26.9% 14.7% 9.1% 12.2% 4.2%
2014/2015 33.8% 27.1% 14.3% 8.8% 12.1% 4.0%
  • Note: Shaded area(s) correspond to recessionary period(s) for Canada's economy.
  • Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, CANSIM Table 282-0047.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada’s long-term unemployed population accounted for 12.9% of the total unemployed population in 2014 (see Chart 34). Footnote 35 This was well below the proportion of long-term unemployed reported in all other G7 countries and also well below average for OECD member states.

Chart 34 - Share of All Unemployed Persons Classified as Long-Term Unemployed, G7 Countries and OECD Average, 2014
Chart 34: description follows
Show Data Table
Canada 12.9%
United States 23.0%
United Kingdom 35.7%
Japan 37.6%
France 42.7%
Germany 44.3%
Italy 61.4%
G7 - Average of All Members 34.5%
OECD - Average of All Members 35.2%
  • Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ,Employment and Labour Market Statistics, Long-Term Unemployment Rate. (Paris: OECD, 2016)

Finally, another indicator of the state of the labour market is the total number of workers who are considered to be underemployed, meaning those who are obliged to work part-time hours involuntarily or are employed in full-time equivalent positions but only work part-time hours due to a lack of full-time work. When using this definition of underemployment, if the total number of underemployed workers were defined as included in the definition for Canada’s official unemployment rate for the labour force, they would represent an increase in the average rate of unemployment in Canada of 2.4 percentage points, in 2014/2015 (increasing the level from an official unemployment rate of 6.9% to a rate of unemployment and underemployment of 9.3%). The level of underemployment in 2014/2015 was slightly lower than the additional 2.5 percentage point gap for the unemployment/underemployment rate when compared to the official unemployment rate that was observed during the last year of the most recent recessionary period in 2009/2010. Footnote 36

Bibliography Footnote 37

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Poloz, Stephen, Carolyn Wilkins et al. "Monetary Policy Report – July 2015." Bank of Canada. 15 July 2015. http://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mpr-2015-07-15.pdf

Statistics Canada. "Minimum Wage in Canada Since 1975." The Daily – Canadian Megatrends. January 2016. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2015006-eng.htm

Yellen, Janet. "Challenges Confronting Monetary Policy." Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Speech to the 2013 National Association for Business Economics Policy Conference. Washington, D.C. 4 March 2013. http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/yellen20130302a.htm

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