Recent trends in Canada’s labour market

In a recent report, Statistics Canada says several indicators point to positive Canadian labour market trends in 2017. Employment grew at its fastest pace in a decade and the unemployment rate matched a record low of 5.8 per cent in December.

How has the labour market fared over the first six months of 2018? Based on the latest data available, overall, the number of employed people increased by 214,900 or 1.2 per cent from June 2017 to June 2018, while job vacancies were up 19 per cent from the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018.

However, signs of moderation are beginning to emerge. Year‑over‑year employment growth was slower in the first half of 2018 compared with the second half of 2017, and the number of people working has barely changed between December 2017 and June 2018.

There’s good news if you do land a job. Wages are on the rise. Following two years of little to no growth, average weekly earnings have increased at a relatively fast pace since the fall of 2017. From September 2017 to May 2018, the earnings of non‑farm payroll employees increased by 2.4 per cent or higher on a year‑over‑year basis.

Although, some unemployed individuals are having difficulty finding a job that matches their skill level.

The unemployment‑to‑job vacancies ratio provides an indication of how well the attributes of the unemployed match the characteristics sought by employers.

Taking the average of the last three quarters of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, there were 4.7 unemployed people with a bachelor’s degree or higher for every vacancy that sought that level of education. In comparison, there were 1.6 unemployed people with a high school diploma or lower for each vacancy looking for a candidate with no specified level of education or with a high school diploma.

In other words, unemployed individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher may have found it more difficult to find work if they looked for a job matching their skill level.

People unemployed for a year or more and individuals potentially looking for permanent employment also faced obstacles.

In the 12 months ending in June 2018, an average of 126,500 job seekers was unemployed despite having searched for work for a year or more.

Temporary employment accounted for nearly 20 per cent of employment gains from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018. That includes seasonal, term or contract, casual and other forms of non‑permanent employment. Growth in temporary work has outpaced permanent employment since 1998/1999. The share of people employed on a temporary basis rose from 12 to 13.6 per cent over that period.

The face of labour supply is changing. In the 12 months ending in June 2018, 31.5 per cent of the working-age population in Ontario were landed immigrants.

As the baby boomers grow older, the share of the Canadian population aged 55 and older has been growing. Based on the 12‑month average ending in June 2018, 45.5 per cent of those aged 55 and older were between the ages of 55 and 64. Over the same period, 62.6 per cent of 55‑ to 64‑year‑olds were employed. Employment for this group increased by 3.4 per cent from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018, outpacing its population growth rate (two per cent).

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