State of the Labour Market

January Labour Force Survey: Modest Gains, Mixed Details


Canadian employment posted a modest gain in January, inching the numbers slightly above the levels before November’s shocking drop. Momentum might be less robust than in mid-2019, but conditions are far from flashing red. Taking a step back, gains were sufficient enough to boost the employment rate of working age Canadians to just below the all-time highs reached last year. 

Looking under the hood, the January numbers had both positives and negatives. Manufacturing jobs showed a bit of a rebound, a welcome pause in trend after dropping towards the end of 2019. 

Standing out on the negative side was another distressing number coming out of Alberta. Conditions in Alberta have been deteriorating over the past few months, and the working age employment rate now stands at its lowest point since the end of 2016.  

Overall, the national labour market stood in solid shape to kick off the new year. Unfortunately with conditions continuing to diverge across key provinces – Ontario and Quebec on the upside, but Alberta falling backwards – it’s tough to feel fully satisfied.

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