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Labour Force Survey Comments – November 2015

Canadian Labour Market

November was an unsurprising down month for Canadian labour markets. September and October’s job numbers had been artificially buoyed by a spike in part-time public sector employment related to the federal election. Once the October 19 election ended, however, those jobs were no longer needed and overall employment numbers fell back to about September’s levels. All told, the Canadian economy lost 35,700 jobs in November, a decrease of about 0.2 per cent. As a result, the unemployment rate rose slightly, to reach 7.1 per cent.

fed election jobs chart

The good news in November was that the large loss in part-time work was at least partially offset by an increase in full-time employment. More than 72,000 part-time jobs came to an end in October, but 36,600 full-time positions were also created that month. In addition, the loss in part-time work in November was smaller than the run-up in those jobs since the election was called; from August to October, there were nearly 110,000 part-time jobs created in Canada.

Employment was down all across Canada. Saskatchewan was the only province to record any significant job gains, adding 2,400 new positions in November – a 0.4 per cent increase over the previous month. Most of those gains were in health care and agriculture. Newfoundland and Labrador also posted a slight increase  in jobs, adding 200 new positions last month.

Outside those provinces, however, the numbers were mostly grim. This was especially true in Alberta where a significant new round of layoffs swept through the province last month. Oil and gas companies (as well as related businesses like pipeline companies) had been delaying laying staff off, in the hopes that they could ride out the storm. However, with no end in sight to low oil prices and with demand for upstream and downstream services drying up, several companies were forced to finally let staff go. As a result, nearly 15,000 Albertans lost their jobs in November, bringing overall employment in the province to its lowest level in 14 months.

alberta jobs chart

Turning back to the national picture, because of the election campaign ending, most of the job losses in November were in the public sector – about 32,500 positions in total. However, conditions were not just weak because of the election. Most other major sectors posted losses as well, albeit on a much smaller scale. Industries related to culture, recreation and hospitality, along with wholesale and retail trade, were among those to lose the largest number of positions. Those losses were offset to some degree by gains in professional, scientific and technical services, as well as manufacturing. The agriculture and construction sectors also had a good month in November.

employment growth chart

With the drop in employment in November, Alberta is no longer Canada’s jobs growth leader for 2015. That position has been taken over by Manitoba which has seen employment grow by 1.7 per cent through 11 months of the year. This is nearly double the national average growth rate; with only one month left to go, employment across Canada is just 0.9 per cent higher compared to the same period last year.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

Manufacturing was one of the good-news stories on the employment front in November. After falling through the summer, manufacturing employment rose for the third straight month in November, adding 17,400 new positions that month. That total represents one of the largest monthly increases in Canadian manufacturing jobs in years. However, in spite of the surge in employment, the jobless rate in manufacturing fell only slightly – from 5.1 per cent in October to 5.0 per cent last month.

mfg employment chart

For the year to date, manufacturing employment remains slightly below last year’s levels. However, the momentum is going in the opposite direction. At this same time a year ago, manufacturers were shedding jobs, while now they are taking on new staff. There were 24,000 more Canadians working in manufacturing in November 2015 than there were 12 months earlier. At this rate, when year-end numbers come in in early January, total manufacturing employment numbers for 2015 will be almost identical to those for 2014.

mfg employment month to month chart

Leading the way in November were Quebec and BC, which added 7,700 and 6,500 new manufacturing jobs, respectively. In Quebec, those gains made up for comparable job losses in October, while in BC the gains are part of a prolonged surge which has seen the province add nearly 16,000 new manufacturing positions since July. Alberta manufacturers also enjoyed a brief respite, creating 3,000 new jobs in November.

mfg employment by province chart

Meanwhile, Ontario businesses have seen a boost in exports through 2015, but those gains have not translated into new jobs. Manufacturing employment in the province fell slightly in November (by 1,300 positions). That marks the fourth time in the past six months that Ontario has lost manufacturing jobs. 

Saskatchewan manufacturers have also been struggling mightily this year. The province lost 600 more manufacturing jobs last month and from January through November, employment is down more than 10 per cent compared to the same period last year. On the bright side, those losses were made up for by increases in BC and the Atlantic provinces (except for Nova Scotia). All four of those provinces are poised to record exceptional annual job gains when 2015 comes to a close.





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