Canada’s employment rose by 55,000 in December, while unemployment had changed slightly.
Statistics Canada Labor force survey captured economic conditions in the week of 5 to 11 December. The reference week was just before the Omicron variant became widespread in Canada, causing an increase in cases. The public health measures corresponded to November in the reference week. Corona-related closures occurred shortly after.
More people worked full-time in December, just before public health measures took off. Most of the employment growth was in Ontario. At the national level, the gains were driven by the construction and education industry.
Unemployment fell slightly to 5.9% compared to November, when it stood at 6%. In February 2020, before the pandemic, Canada’s unemployment rate was 5.6%.
Newcomer employment higher than pre-pandemic
International travel restrictions earlier in the pandemic caused the number of brand new immigrants (who have landed within five years) to have recovered to its pre-pandemic level in recent months. In December, the total number of very recent immigrants of working age (25-54) was 0.6% higher, or 5,000 more, than two years earlier.
The share of brand new immigrants in the core age increased by 7.8 percentage points to 78.7% in the two years ending in December 2021. Employment growth during this period was greatest in professional, scientific and technical services (up 26,000 jobs, 31.3%) as well as wholesale and retail trade (up 20,000 jobs, 28.7%).
Statistics Canada says the major gains in the two industries reflect the role that both higher-skilled and lower-skilled employment play in the integration of newcomers into the labor market. Professional, scientific and technical services tend to be “highly qualified” jobs according to National Business Classification (NOC), whereas retail jobs as cashiers fall under “low-skilled”. Canada’s main immigration route, Express Entry, focuses on hiring highly skilled workers. While there are roads for low-skilled workers, there are some Provincial nominated programs for example, there are still more economic immigrants coming to Canada as highly educated workers.
For immigrants who landed more than five years ago, the employment rate among the core aging was almost 83% in December. At the same time, Canadian-born workers in the core age experienced an employment rate of around 86%. These figures have changed slightly from two years earlier.
The employment rate is rising year by year for visible minorities
Compared to 2020, the employment rate for visible minorities had increased by four percentage points to almost 71% by December 2021. Employment for white Canadians increased by two percentage points to almost 71%. While the employment rates for both groups matched, visible minority groups saw more employment growth.
Employment rates rose for some of the largest visible minority groups in Canada, including Southeast Asian, black, and Filipino Canadians. The rate was slightly changed year over year for Chinese Canadians.
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