The Ontario Jobs Picture in February: Not Good Under the Hood

With the media and the politicos largely silent on the February Labour Market Survey jobs report, we were anxious to get a look at the data. First we did a literature search. Reuters reported a Canada-wide loss of 2,300 jobs in total with a loss of 51,800 full-time jobs (offset by an unreported rise in part-time jobs), and a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.3%. The Financial Post and the Globe and Mail both reported similar numbers. Are these numbers accurate and what do they mean? Let’s take a look.

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* (also read our view of seasonal adjustment in The Lies My Mommy Told Me, Part II). All terms are explained in the CANSIM table footnotes and are not reproduced here.

The High Level View

Table 282-0087 shows aggregate labour market statistics for Ontario. We have summarized the current numbers in Table 1 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 6,874.9 6.9 72.9
Employment full-time 5,483.5 -59.8 182.2
Employment part-time 1,391.5 66.8 -81.9
Unemployment rate 6.8% 0.0% -0.2%
Participation rate 64.4% 0.1% -0.1%
Employment rate 60.0% 0.0% +0.0%

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0087


In January, Ontario lost 79,400 jobs. February shows a small recovery of 6,900 jobs. The notable change however is the loss of 59,800 full-time jobs offset by a gain of 66,800 part-time jobs. The entire job increase has been in the part-time category. As we have noted in the past, full-time jobs usually pay better than part-time jobs, particularly when benefits are factored in. So the overall jobs report for February is rather dismal.

Last month we reported the yoy increase in jobs at 100,300. This month that figure is 72,900 jobs. The significance of looking at yoy data is that seasonal variations are removed. A 27% decrease in annual job creation from January to February suggests a deteriorating employment picture in the province.

Where the Jobs Are in the Economy

Table 282-0088 gives changes in employment by 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 6.9 72.9
Goods-producing sector 20.7 56.2
Agriculture 3.6 5.9
Natural resources -2.6 1.2
Construction 9.2 17.7
Manufacturing 8.8 34.6
Services-producing sector -13.8 16.7
Professional, scientific and technical -2.0 24.7
1. Educational services 0.1 -13.4
2. Health care and social assistance -2.1 14.2
Accommodation and food services 3.5 -3.0
3. Public administration -1.3 -10.1

Source: CANSIM Table 282-0088


February saw a continued decrease in the service sector. Most of this decrease was in sub-sectors that we don’t track (see the CANSIM table for their numbers). The net decrease of 3,300 public sector jobs continuing the changes in January is a positive economic factor.

The increase in the goods-producing sector is good news. Swapping service sector jobs for goods-producing jobs indicates a strengthening in the Ontario jobs market. An examination of income statistics is necessary to determine if the positive effect of the  sectoral shift is enough to counteract the employment category shift to determine the net economic effect.

Finally, looking at the total jobs in the three public sectors, we see that the public sector represents 25% of the jobs in the province.


The key points of the February jobs data are:

  • Ontario gained 6,900 jobs but saw a large 60 K move from full-time to part-time jobs;
  • the province ranked third highest for job growth behind Quebec and BC;
  • we saw a continued growth in manufacturing with 8,800 jobs added;
  • the unemployment rate held steady at 6.8%, the third lowest behind Saskatchewan and Manitoba;
  • the services sector lost 13,800 jobs versus a gain of20,700 in the goods-producing sector;
  • the public sector shrank by 3,300 jobs; and
  • the size of the combined public sector jobs is 25% of Ontario employment.

The big news this month is the move of 60 thousand full-time jobs to part-time employment. We will be watching to see if this is a short-term blip or the start f a trend.

Our final comment is regarding the numbers reported in the media in the first paragraph. They are based on seasonally adjusted data. As we have reported before on several occasions, these are made up numbers created by applying computer algorithms to the real data which we report on. The real Canada-wide numbers are 35,200 jobs created with an unemployment rate of 7.7%.

Related Links

Past monthly 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 6 we deselect  all and then select “Unadjusted”.*
  3. In Step 7 we select the current month and year of one year previous. This gives us a full year of data.
  4. In Step 9 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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