Labour Force Survey February 2009

This article was last updated on June 18, 2022

Employment fell for the fourth consecutive month in February (-83,000), bringing total losses since the peak of last October to 295,000 (-1.7%). The February employment decrease pushed the unemployment rate up 0.5 percentage points to 7.7%.

Chart 1 Employment

All of the employment losses in February were in full-time (-111,000), while part-time employment edged up slightly. This continues the downward trend in full-time employment observed since October. Part-time employment has shown only a marginal increase over the same period.

In February, the largest decline in employment occurred in Ontario (-35,000), followed by Alberta (-24,000) and Quebec (-18,000).

Men aged 25 to 54 were particularly hard hit by February’s employment decline (-66,000). Since the start of the labour market downturn, employment among core-age men has fallen by 170,000 (-2.7%).

Employment among 15 to 24 year-olds also continued to trend down in February (-29,000). This latest decline brings total losses since October to 104,000 (-4.0%), the fastest rate of decline of all age groups. The unemployment rate for youths was 14.2% in February, up 2.0 percentage points from last October.

A decrease of 43,000 in construction accounted for over half of the employment decline in February. There were also losses in professional, scientific and technical services; educational services; and natural resources. The only industries with gains in February were manufacturing and agriculture.

In February, the increase in average hourly wages was 3.9% compared with 12 months earlier. The most recent year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index was 1.1%.

Sharp decline in construction employment

In February, employment decreased by 43,000 in construction, the second large decline in three months. While the construction industry had the fastest growth from January to October 2008 (+4.9%), it has since experienced the steepest decline (-6.4%). The downward trend coincides with the recent weakness in building permits and housing starts.

Employment in February fell in professional, scientific and technical services, down 31,000 (-2.6%), mostly in legal services and in architecture, engineering and design services.

In February, employment edged down in educational services (-15,000) bringing declines since October to 44,000.

Employment in natural resources also declined in February (-8,000), all in mining, oil and gas extraction, with most of the decrease observed in Alberta.

In February, employment rose by 25,000 in manufacturing, with the largest gain in food products manufacturing. Transportation equipment manufacturing was little changed following declines the month before. Despite the overall increase in February, manufacturing employment is down 5.3% (-104,000) from 12 months earlier.

The number of workers employed in agriculture as their main job increased in February. However, over the last 12 months, employment in this industry is down 13,000 (-3.7%).

Employment losses in February were almost equally split among private sector employees, public sector employees and the self-employed.

Continued losses in Ontario

Employment in Ontario fell by 35,000 in February, mostly in construction and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. This pushed the unemployment rate up 0.7 percentage points to 8.7%, the highest since April 1997. Since last October, the province’s unemployment rate has risen by 2.0 percentage points, with increases concentrated in southwestern Ontario

Table 1 Labour force characteristics by age and sex

Table 2 Employment by class of worker and industry (based on NAICS)

Table 3 Labour force characteristics by province

Table 4 Labour force characteristics by province

You can find more details, charts and tables at:

For further information or to schedule interviews with a Statistics Canada Analyst regarding this release please contact: Jey Dharmaraj, at: (416) 954-5976 or .

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