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September Job Search Survey: Canadian Job Search Edges Down Again

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Fewer employed workers on the job hunt.

Key Points

  • 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”.

Bar chart titled “Share of Canadians searching for work has edged down.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 40%, Indeed compared the job search status among Canadians, both employed and non-employed, between July and September 2021 with different coloured sections of each bar representing “searching, not urgently” and “searching, urgently.” As of September 2021, the share actively searching ticked down slightly from 27% in July 2021 to 25%.

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. 

Bar chart titled “Employed job search has eased since mid-summer.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 40%, Indeed compared the job search status of Canadians by employment status between July and September 2021 with different coloured sections of each bar representing “searching, not urgently” and “searching, urgently.” As of September 2021, search activity among those employed ticked down from 25% in July to 22%, while among the jobless it has remained fairly stable at 32%.

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.

Bar chart titled “Older out-of-work Canadians less attached to the labour force.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 100%, Indeed compared the job search status of non-employed Canadians by age group during the third quarter of 2021, with different coloured sections of each bar representing “non searching, not interested”  and “not searching, open to work.” The share of the non-employed not searching for work was greater among older Canadians, while a greater share of younger adults out of the labour force indicated they were 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%).

Table titled “A range of reasons Canadians aren’t looking for work.” Indeed compared the reasons Canadians who were out of the labour force in the third quarter of 2021 between those who weren’t searching and weren’t interested in work, and those not searching but open to work. Respondents who were out of the labour force and not interested in work frequently mentioned either retirement, as well as illness or disability, as the reason they weren’t searching for work. Meanwhile, those who weren’t searching, but open to work, also frequently cited taking care of home or family, as well as being in school or training as the reason they weren’t looking for work. 

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.

Methodology

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.