21+ Game-Changing Canada Employment Statistics

Before the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on almost all sectors of the economy, Canada boasted of a strong labour market. Canada employment statistics have reported that all the key indicators of a strong employment scene were at play here, making it one of the world’s wealthiest nations. 

Speaking of indicators, they are:

✔️ A balanced jobs to population ratio

✔️ A low unemployment rate

✔️ Reasonable daily wages

✔️ The ready availability of jobs

✔️ High literacy


The global pandemic spelt out a long winter of quarantines and restrictions. Thousands of workers faced reduced hours or layoffs, sending the unemployment rate in Canada through the roof. Select industries – tourism, food service, and retail, among others – took a disproportionate hit. 

All in all, Canada’s job market suffered historic lows. Things haven’t been this bad since the Great Recession. 

Let’s take a closer look at the latest stats and facts to gauge the effect of COVID-19 and see how the market may recover.

Fascinating Canadian Employment Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • 18,559,000 people were employed in Canada as of May 2021.
  • The number of Canadians working from home increased by 100,000 in April 2021.
  • The labour force participation rate dropped by 0.3% in May 2021 and currently stands at 64.6%
  • The involuntary part-time rate was at 22.7% in 2021
  • The unemployment rate in Canada among the minority population grew by 1.5% and reached 11.4% in May 2021.
  • Canada’s labour underutilization was at 17.6% in May 2021.
  • Canada added 259,000 jobs in February 2021.
  • Women accounted for 56.4% of year-over-year job losses on an average from October 2020 to February 2021.

Employment History of Canada

1. The employment rate in Canada remained at an average of 60.25% from 1976 to 2020. 

(Source: Trading Economics)

The all-time high for the Canadian employment rate was recorded in February 2008, when it stood at 63.50%. The rate fell to its lowest in April 2010, at 52.10%. 

2. In 1999, the unemployment rate in Canada was 7.58%.

(Source: Statista)

In 2002, it soared to 7.67%. In 2009, the year of the Great Recession, it reached heights at 8.34%. The global pandemic brought on unforeseen damages to the labour market. As a result, the unemployment rate rose even beyond 2009 numbers, at 9.48% in 2020
Statistic: Canada: Unemployment rate from 1999 to 2020 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista


Labour Market Trends in Canada in 2021

3. Employment statistics from May 2021 stated that the number of Canadians who had jobs at this time was 18,559,000.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

This figure was down by 0.4% from the previous month when it stood at 18,627,000. This accounts for a fall in employment of 68,000 people. 

Which aspect of employment was most affected? 

Part-time work saw the more significant portion of this reduction, with 54,000 part-time workers laid off. Among those part-time workers who retained their jobs, 22.7% wanted permanent jobs.

4. One of the new employment trends in Canada, working from home, increased by 100,000 in April 2021.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Over 5.1 million Canadians work from home. This accounts for 30.6% of the total workforce. Remote work was a rising trend even before the pandemic, with more and more people opting to work remotely at least a couple of days a week. So, it looks like it’s here to stay long-term, even as restrictions are lifted slowly and things start to return to normal. 

5. The labour force participation rate dropped by 0.3% in May 2021 and now stands at 64.6%.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

In May 2021, the percentage of youth aged 15 to 24 in the labour force decreased by 38,000 (-1.3%), owing to fewer students in the summer job market than in a typical month of May. Additionally, participation dropped by 39,000 among core-aged women aged 25 to 54.

The thing is:

As the third wave of lockdowns continued in Ontario and restrictions were imposed in several other regions, the number of women aged 25 to 54 who wanted work but did not look for work increased by 28,000. This suggests that some women may have stopped looking for work because of adverse working conditions.

6. Involuntary part-time work at 22.7%, Canada employment statistics for 2021 reveal. 

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

The involuntary part-time rate, or the share of part-time workers who would like to work full-time, is a vital indicator of overall labour market conditions.

How does it affect the typical employee?

Here’s the deal:

Failure to obtain full-time jobs can have a range of effects on workers, including financial strains and setbacks in getting experience. Additionally, employee engagement is likely to drop.

Men (26.3%) had a greater rate of involuntary part-time work than women (20.5%), Canada job statistics confirm. This figure has risen since the start of the pandemic.

7. Underutilization is another rising trend, at 17.6% in May 2021, Canada labour statistics reveal.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Labour underutilization simply means a higher number of employed people were forced to work less than their usual hours. This new trend complemented the Canadian unemployment rate during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Here are the various components of labour underutilization that remained high from February onwards as per the Canada employment report:

  • Employees working less than half of their usual hours +76% 
  • Total number of job searchers +36.7%
  • Employees who were laid off temporarily +118.5%
  • Those who wanted jobs but didn’t look for any +44.8%

8. Very little changed when it comes to the overall unemployment rate, which was 8.2% in May 2021.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Canada employment statistics reveal that the number of people facing temporary layoffs was steady in 2021. Unemployment stood at 9.4% in January, considerably lower than the overall peak of 13.7% in May 2020. 

Canada Employment Rate by Province

9. Saskatchewan has the highest employment rate in June 2021, at 59.6%. 

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Employment statistics for Saskatchewan state that 528,900 people out of a total population of 887,700 were employed. That translates to a solid population to employment ratio, reaching almost 60%. The unemployment rate of Saskatchewan is currently 11.6%.

10. Manitoba and Alberta come up next, with employment rates of 58.9% and 58.5% in June 2021.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

The labour force participation rate of Manitoba is 65.7%, and its unemployment rate is 10.3%. Those employed part-time in Manitoba are 119,600, while there are 497,600 full-time workers. 

Those employed full-time in Alberta are 1,689,900, while 360,000 people work part-time. 

Alberta’s unemployment rate is 15.8%. 

11. The employment rate in Ontario was 58.3% in May 2021, down by 3.3% from February 2020.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Ontario tied with Nova Scotia for the largest gap among provinces. Its unemployment rate was 9.3% in May 2021

On the other hand:

Youth unemployment in Ontario was at a worrying high of 27.8%. 

Returning students aged between 15 and 24 in Ontario witnessed an employment rate of 35.4%, which was a massive 10 percentage points down from 2019

12. A province-wide lockdown in April 2021 in Nova Scotia yielded the largest decline in employment by 4.8%.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

This decline accounted for a massive figure of 22,000 people facing layoffs. The job losses spread across demographics and affected both part-time and full-time workers. 

Nova Scotia recorded an unemployment rate of 9.8%. It was concentrated in industries like retail, education, and food service. 

13. Canada job creation statistics reveal the labour market added 259,000 jobs in February 2021, recovering most of the jobs lost in the previous two months.

(Source: CBC)

This gain in employment was the largest since September 2020. As a result, it far outstripped economists’ predictions of 75,000 new jobs and a 9.2% unemployment rate. Part-time and full-time employment grew, and long-term unemployment decreased by 9.7% from a peak of 512,000 in January 2021.

And that’s not all:

As schools and other workplaces reopened in various provinces, the number of people working at sites other than home climbed by 600,000 among those who worked at least half their regular hours.

Canadian Employment Statistics by Industry

canada employment statistics

14. Stats on Canada employment reveal more Canadians work in wholesale and retail than in any other industry (2.7 million). 

(Source: Statista)

Let’s take a look at some of the leading sectors and how many people they employed in 2020

  • Retail2.7 million
  • Healthcare2.44 million
  • Manufacturing – 1.66 million
  • Professional and technical services – 1.55 million
  • Construction – 1.37 million
  • Educational services – 1.34 million
  • Finance – 1.23 million
  • Public administration – 1 million

Other notable employment sectors in Canada are transport, food service, information and recreation, and agriculture.  

15. Labour productivity in the manufacturing industry decreased by 1.5% between 2018 and 2019, Canada employment statistics for 2019 confirm.

(Source: Government of Canada, 150 Stan Can)

Canadian workforce statistics reveal the average hourly wage in this sector to be $25.44, while total salaries reached as high as $94.8 billion in 2018. In 2019, total revenue in the industry grew by 1.5% to reach $749.6 billion.

16. 72% of the retail industry in Canada was profitable in 2019 and paid workers an hourly wage of $19.12.

(Source: Government of Canada)

Labour productivity increased by 0.6% in 2019. In 2020, this sector employed a total of 96,625 people, according to Canada employment statistics

17. There were 282,888 healthcare and social assistance establishments in 2020.

(Source: Government of Canada)

97.3% of these establishments had fewer than 100 employees. Additionally, Canada labour statistics reveal that people in this sector received an average hourly wage of $28.4

18. The goods-producing industry reported a loss of 36,000 employees in May 2021, the first since April 2020. 

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Canadian employment statistics further reveal retail trade recorded 29,000 jobs lost and Other businesses had a cut down of 24,000 jobs.

Transportation and warehousing (+22,000) and natural resources (+8,600) both had increases in employment.

Interesting fact:

Natural resources is the industry that has recovered the most post-COVID, with employment up 29,000 (+9.3%) from February 2020 levels. Share on X

Canadian Employment Demographics

19. Gender differences have crept up in Canada’s job market during the pandemic, with women suffering 62.5% of employment losses.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

This could be related to the distribution of family obligations in homes, as well as the fact that many people viewed limitations as temporary. Between spring and fall 2020, the losses were more evenly distributed.

On the other hand, women accounted for 56.4% of year-over-year Canada job losses on an average from October 2020 to February 2021, with a peak of 59.6% in November.

Altogether, women accounted for 53.7% of the year-over-year job losses during the study period.

20. Canadian employment numbers state the unemployment rate for men in February 2021 was 6.9%, down from 7.6% in January 2020. 

(Source: CBC)

6.7% of women were unemployed in February 2021, compared to 8% in January 2020. Youth unemployment was much higher, at 17.1% in February 2021, compared to 19.7% in January 2020.

21. The youth unemployment rate in Canada went down from 40% in May 2020 to 23.1% in May 2021.

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

In April 2021, Ontario and British Columbia showed a marked decline in youth employment numbers. Employment figures for Canadians aged between 15 and 24 fell by 101,000 people. 

Canada’s employment rate for those aged between 25 and 54 showed a rise in February and March; however, it fell again due to stricter restrictions in April. So, a decline of 48,000 was recorded, with the highest losses among full-time working women. 

22. The unemployment rate in Canada among the minority population grew by 1.5% and reached 11.4% in May 2021. 

(Source: 150 Stat Can)

Hikes in layoffs were recorded among Filipino (+3.7%), Chinese (+2.9%), and South Asian Canadians (+1.6%)

At the same time, the unemployment rate among Canadians who were not members of a visible minority group or native populations declined 0.6 percentage points to 7.0%.


The Great White North has consistently been among the developed countries with the highest employment rate. Services, manufacturing, and the natural resource industry, Canada’s three core industries, operate together as one engine and determine the country’s progress.

The thing is:

Tourism, education, retail, and restaurants have been hit the hardest by the virus’s spread. The daily loss of companies is intolerable, and the road to recovery will be even more difficult. 

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on both women’s and men’s work markets. Young adults aged 14 to 25, unmarried persons, married people without children, the elderly, and less educated people aged 55 and above have all seen a drop in hours, job loss, and low income.

The good news is:

There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Looking at these Canada employment statistics, it’s good to see job growth in Canada midst of one of the country’s worst economic downturns. At the same time, it’s worth noting that businesses are still unwilling to rehire workers at full pay for full hours.


Does Canada have high employment?

Canada’s job market is steadily recovering from the pandemic losses. The employment rate increased to 60.1% in June 2021, up from 59.4% in May 2021.

How many employees does Statistics Canada have?

The number of full-time employees in statistical agencies in Canada is 5469, while 456 people work part-time.

Why is unemployment so high in Canada?

The latest Canada employment statistics place the unemployment rate at 8.2%. This increase can be attributed to job layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid replacement of employees by AI technology


Urnesha has worked in content writing, editorship, and translation for the last 6 years. Her dream is to be a lifelong learner and venture out of my comfort zone as she does so. She's passionate about access to quality education, animal rights, and sustainability, among other things. Currently pursuing a master's degree, I have a background in English literature. My goal is to harness my love of the language to try something new every step of the way.

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