March Saw Canada’s Unemployment Rate Increase

Canada Job Vacancies Fell In September
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The federal government’s latest jobs statistics show Canada’s unemployment rose while the employment rate fell in March.

Employment underwent little change in March (-2,200), while the employment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to reach 61.4 per cent. This was the sixth consecutive monthly decrease in Canada’s employment rate.

If considering the trend over the past year, there has been a decrease in employment rate by 0.9 percentage points, as employment growth has been outpaced by growth in the population aged 15 and over, according to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

Meanwhile, employment – which remained static in March – rose for the months of January (+41,000; +0.2 per cent) and February (+37,000; +0.2 per cent).

It was also reported on March 27, 2024, that Canada’s population had increased at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent as of January 1, 2024, which was the fastest annual growth rate since 1957.

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Private sector as unchanged for a fourth month in a row in March, and has been steady for eight of the nine months since June 2023.

Public sector employment also had little change in March 2024, but had a faster growth rate between March 2023 and March 2024.

Youth See Falling Employment, While Men See Growth

Youth aged 15 to 24 had a fall in employment by 28,000 (-1.0 per cent) in March, continuing a trend which has seen no net employment growth among youth since December 2022.

The youth employment rate fell 0.9 percentage points to 55.0 per cent in March 2024, which was the lowest level since February 2012 (not considering 2020 and 2021, which were years marked by COVID-19).

Both male and female youth have seen a fall in employment rate over the last 12 months, with women seeing a 4.8 percentage point fall to 55.5 per cent and males seeing a 4.0 per cent percentage point fall to 54.6 per cent.

Students and non-students have both experienced a similar negative trend-line in terms of employment.

The above trend is starkly contrasted as that for core-aged men, for whom employment rose by 20,000 (+0.3 per cent) in March, after a similar increase in February (+23,000).

Their employment rate was 87.2 per cent for the third month in a row in March, but was down by a small metric – 0.6 percentage points – compared to 12 months prior.

Core-aged women’s employment was virtually unchanged, at 81.3 per cent. This is a relatively lower number than the peak of 82.0 per cent observed in both January and March 2023.

Men and women aged 55 and older had a steady employment rate at 30.1 per cent for the latter group, and 40.0 per cent for the former.

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Unemployment Rate Goes Up to 6.1 per cent

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, witnessed a relatively small rise of 0.3 percentage points to 6.1 per cent in March. The year-on-year rise in the unemployment rate is 0.1 percentage points.

The rise in the unemployment rate on a monthly basis was due to an increase of 60,000 (+4.8 per cent) people looking for work or on temporary layoff.

This took the total number of unemployed people to 1.3 million – an increase of 247,000 (23.0 per cent) compared with 12 months earlier.

Unemployed persons also had a harder time finding work compared with a year earlier, as determined by the majority of unemployed persons in February 2024 remaining unemployed in March 2024 (a higher proportion than the corresponding number from a year ago).

Numbers also showed that on a year-over-year basis, the participation rates of youth aged 15 to 24 and people aged 55 and over had fallen.

Among youth, students had a faster fall in participation rate (-2.7 percentage points to 45.0 per cent) than non-students (0.9 percentage points to 86.6 per cent) over the period.

The youth unemployment rate in March 2024 was the highest it has been since September 2016, excluding 2020 and 2021, during the pandemic.

On a year-on-year basis, the unemployment rate was up for both young men (+3.3 percentage points to 13.4 per cent) and young women (+2.9 percentage points to 11.7 per cent).

For those aged 55 and older, the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.5 per cent in March. On a year-over-year basis, it was up by 0.4 percentage points to 4.9 per cent for men and unchanged at 4.1 per cent for women.

Demographically, the unemployment rate rose the most for core-aged Black Canadians (3.9 percentage points to 10.8 per cent) between March 2023 and March 2024. At the same time, it increased by 1.8 percentage points to 6.7 per cent for core-aged South Asian Canadians, 1.1 percentage points to 7.2 per cent for core-aged Chinese Canadians.

Employment Falls in Major Sectors

Employment fell by 27,000 (-2.4 per cent) in accommodation and food services, with little change in this industry compared to last March. Also, employment in wholesale and retail trade decreased by 23,000 (-0.8 per cent), and Employment in professional, scientific and technical services fell by 20,000 (-1.0 per cent).

Meanwhile, that in healthcare and social assistance went up by 40,000 (+1.5 per cent) in March, with employment in this industry having steadily gone up since May 2023 – a cumulative increase of 123,000 (+4.7 per cent) over the period.

Employment in construction also went up by 15,000 (1.0 per cent) in March, with little change from March 2023.

Employment by Province

Provincially, employment went down in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but went up in Ontario.

In Quebec – which had seen five consecutive months of little change – employment went down by 18,000 (-0.4 per cent) in March and the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 5.0 per cent.

Nearly two-thirds of this this was among youth.

Contrastingly, employment in Ontario went up by 26,000 (+0.3 per cent) in March, which was the second increase in three months.

Employment fell by 6,000 (-1.0 per cent) in Saskatchewan in March, while the unemployment rate in Saskatchewan increased in March to 5.4 per cent (+0.4 percentage points).

While Manitoba’s unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 5.0 per cent, the unemployment rate in the province remained, with Quebec, the lowest among all Canadian provinces.

The largest year-over-year increase in the unemployment rate was found in St. Catharines-Niagara, where the unemployment rate went up by 3.6 percentage points to 7.6 per cent, which was the highest among all census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

The unemployment rates in Toronto and Windsor each went up by 1.7 percentage points to 7.5 per cent in March, sitting just below the rate in St. Catharines-Niagara.

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