The Ontario Employment Picture: March, 2015 – Continuing Deterioration

The last time we reviewed employment in Ontario was the December report: The Ontario Employment Picture: December, 2014 – Deteriorating. We have heard nothing from the province about jobs created so we suspect the numbers are not good. Let’s dig into them.

In this report we present our analysis of the Ontario labour market component of the total Canadian market using two sources of data from Statistics Canada: CANSIM Table 282-0087, Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by sex and age group, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted monthly, and CANSIM Table 282-0088, Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employment by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), seasonally adjusted and unadjusted. Data selection methodology is in the Appendix. The data we use is not seasonally adjusted*. All terms are explained in the CANSIM table footnotes and are not reproduced here. Presentation and discussion of the data follows.

The High Level View

Table 282-0087 shows aggregate labour market statistics for Ontario. We have summarized the current numbers as well as the month-over-month (mom) and year-over-year (yoy) changes in the data.

Table 1. Current values and changes in labour market components, mom and yoy in thousands of jobs unless shown as a percent.

Labour Market Component current mom
Total Employment 6,781.2 -20.8 20.6
   Employment full-time 5,406.3 -26.3 17.9
   Employment part-time 1,375.0 5.6 3.1
Unemployment rate 7.3% 0.3% 0.3%
Participation rate 64.5% 0.0% -0.7%
Employment rate 59.8% -0.2% -0.4%

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0087


March employment data shows a continued deterioration in the Ontario employment picture. These numbers are down from February’s on all measures except part-time employment which increased modestly. The truly alarming fact is that the Ontario economy produced only a net 20,600 jobs over the last year. What’s more, Ontario shed 26,300 full-time jobs in March. And the unemployment rate popped 0.3% in March to 7.3%.

Where the Jobs Are in the Economy

Table 282-0088 gives changes in employment by employment category as defined by the North American Industry Classification System. The high level breakdown is by Goods-producing sector and Services-producing sector. We present data in Table 2 below that is selected on the basis of relevance to our narrative or showing anomalous change.

Table 2. Changes in employment in industry sectors and sub-sectors, month-over-month (mom) and year-over-year (yoy) in thousands.

Sector and Sub-sector
mom yoy
Total Employment -20.8 20.6
Goods-producing sector -4.9 -9.2
    Agriculture -0.3 -6.9
    Natural resources 1.5 4.8
    Construction -6.7 12.3
    Manufacturing -0.1 -18.7
Services-producing sector -15.8 30.1
   Professional, scientific and technical 2.9 9.4
   1. Educational services -7.5 43.9
   2. Health care and social assistance -2.4 23.3
   Accommodation and food services -3.0 2.3
   3. Public administration -10.4 -21.8

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0088


Another 4,900 jobs were lost in the goods-producing sectors versus 15,800 jobs added in the services-producing sectors in an economy where the sectoral ratio of goods to services is 1:4.1. Not only were a net number of jobs lost in March but, even moreso than in November, the skew of goods-producing to services-producing jobs lost was 4.5:1. As we noted in Blowin’ In The Wind, goods-producing jobs tend to be more highly paid than service-producing jobs by 30% on the average. This continuing skew indicates that the decline in the Ontario economy is deeper than job numbers alone suggest. Also, the 11,900 manufacturing jobs created in November were wiped out by the loss of 13,400 jobs in December.

Professional services increased by 2,900 jobs over February and 9,400 jobs over the year reversing the loss seen into the 2014 year end. We track them because we consider them to be the more highly paid services jobs outside of the public sector.

Public sector jobs decreased by 20,300 (the three enumerated categories in Table 2) over February’s numbers. Although up 45,400 jobs yoy, the March decline is positive for the economy by reducing the deficit and removing unproductive labour from the market. Although public sector jobs do represent income that flows into the economy, an even larger amount must be taken from provincial net income through taxes to pay for these jobs. We are in an environment where revenue from taxes is declining as the economy sheds jobs on a net basis.

Finally, if we note that job growth in the three public sectors over the last year is 43,000 out of a total job growth of 76,600, we find that the public sector is responsible for 56% of the job growth in the province.


The key points of the March jobs data are:

  • Ontario lost 26,300 full-time jobs but gained 5,900 part-time jobs;
  • the goods-producing sector had a net loss of 4,900 jobs while manufacturing lost a small 100 jobs;
  • the public sector continued to grow with 11,800 government jobs; and
  • the annual increase in the combined public sector jobs at 45,400 represents 220% of the total 20,600 jobs created in Ontario over the last year.

The net job losses, particularly those that are full-time, points to a continued deterioration of the Ontario economy. There is a compounded negative aspect of this jobs picture because public sector jobs carry with them high cost future pension and medical benefit obligations while carrying a lower productivity than private sector jobs.

Related Links

Past month jobs reports:

Initial reports:

  1. The Real Job Situation in Ontario: Ugly (June 2014 job report) with a discussion on seasonal adjustment.
  2. Beauty and the Beast: Mom’s Latest Child (July 2014 job report).

Other reports on Ontario jobs:


These tables have an interactive front-end that allows for selecting what and how data is to be presented. For Table 282-0087 we will use the default settings with the following exceptions:

  1. In Step 1 we deselect “Canada” and select “Ontario”.
  2. In Step 5 we deselect  “Seasonally adjusted” and select “Unadjusted”.*
  3. In Step 6 we select the current month and year of one year previous. This gives us a full year of data.
  4. In Step 8 click “Apply” to populate the table.

For Table 282-0088 we will use the default settings with the following exceptions:

  1. In Step 1 we deselect “Canada” and select “Ontario”.
  2. In Step 3 we deselect  “Seasonally adjusted” and select “Unadjusted”.*
  3. In Step 4 we select the current month and year of one year previous. This gives us a full year of data.
  4. In Step 6 click “Apply” to populate the table.

*For a discussion on seasonal adjustment see initial report #1 under the links at the end. We consider a year-over-year change as one that includes most cyclical and seasonal effects and use these figures on the unadjusted data for discussion purposes.

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