- The share of Canadians actively searching for work edged down for a second consecutive month, to 25% in September, compared to 27% in July, led by a dip in search among employed workers
- Among those not employed, 32% were searching for work, unchanged since mid-summer, with a majority indicating their search is “not urgent”, showing little movement ahead of the scheduled wind-down of the Canada Recovery Benefit in late October.
- Half of those neither employed nor searching for work indicated they weren’t interested in taking a job in the future, with retirement, disability, and illness the predominant reasons for labour force detachment.
Canadian job search activity remained fairly subdued in September, according to the latest Indeed Job Search Survey of 4,000 Canadians ages 18 to 64. Overall, 25% of respondents said they were actively searching for work, down from 27% in July, a statistically significant change. As in August, over two-thirds of those on the job hunt indicated that their search was “not urgent”.
The decline in job search was once again led by Canadians who were already employed. Only 22% of those with a job were searching for work, down from 25% in July, a statistically significant decline.
Meanwhile, among those not employed, 32% were actively looking for work, unchanged from July. A majority (58%) of unemployed job seekers indicated their search was not urgent, with different types of financial cushions, like the presence of savings, having a spouse or partner employed, or access to government jobless benefits, often allowing for more patient search. There were no signs of a pickup in search urgency in September ahead of the scheduled wind-down of the Canada Recovery Benefit on October 23rd.
Non-employed non-searchers look different across age groups
While Canadians who aren’t working are more likely to be on the job hunt than those who are, during the third quarter this year, 68% of the former still weren’t actively looking for work. Moreover, half of non-employed respondents who are not searching also say they aren’t interested in finding work in the future. What’s driving this level of labour force detachment?
Openness to new work among those out of the labour force (i.e. among those neither working nor searching) is much greater among younger than older Canadians. A large majority of those out of the labour force under age 45 indicate openness to new work at some point. Meanwhile, those between ages 45 to 55 are evenly split between those interested in returning to work and not, while those 55 to 64 are substantially more likely to indicate they aren’t open to work.
Age differences in labour force attachment are also evident in the reasons some aren’t searching for work. Among those who weren’t searching or interested in employment, 81% indicate they’re either retired, ill, or disabled, as the reason they aren’t searching for work. Among those not searching, but open to future opportunities, illness/disability was still a somewhat common reason for not searching (25%), but so too was taking care of home or family (25%), and attending school or training (15%).
Job search and the recovery
While most Canadians, including those out of work, hadn’t been searching for work in recent months, the labour market recovery continued its solid pace. Employer hiring appetite remains quite elevated across a range of sectors, while employment levels in pandemic-exposed services are still a ways from a full recovery. Both trends suggest the labour market still has further room for overall improvement. Looking ahead, a key question is whether current levels of job search will be conducive to further increases in the Canadian employment rate. We will continue to survey Canadians to assess how these trends are evolving. The key development we’ll be watching in October is how job search activity responds to the end of the Canada Recovery Benefit.
This blog post is based on separate online surveys of 4,000 Canadian adults ages 18-64 conducted on July 15-20, August 9-23, September 13-29. The survey was conducted among various general population survey panel audiences. Indeed awareness, use, or otherwise was not a requirement for participation. There was no mention of Indeed or any other job sites in the survey and respondents were not aware that the survey was sponsored by Indeed.
Weights were applied to match respondent distributions across age, educational attainment, and time spent in Canada with the Labour Force Survey public-use microfile data from January 2021 through June 2021.