May Labour Force Survey (LFS) data reflect labour market conditions during the week of May 9 to 15. Following the April reference week, tighter public health restrictions continued or were introduced in several provinces. 

Highlights from the report:

Employment falls for a second month under third-wave restrictions

  • Employment fell by 68,000 (-0.4%) in May. Almost all of the decline was in part-time work (-54,000; -1.6%).
  • The number of self-employed workers was virtually unchanged in May, but remained 5.0% (-144,000) below its pre-pandemic level.
  • Among people working part time in May, almost one-quarter (22.7%) wanted a full-time job, up from 18.5% in February 2020 (not seasonally adjusted).
  • The number of Canadians working from home held steady at 5.1 million.
  • After falling in April, total hours worked were little changed in May.
  • Ontario and Nova Scotia accounted for most of the overall employment decline in May.
  • Employment increased in Saskatchewan, while there was little change in all other provinces.

Unemployment little changed

  • The unemployment rate was little changed at 8.2% in May, as the number of people who searched for a job or who were on temporary layoff held steady.
  • The unemployment rate among visible minority Canadians aged 15 to 69 rose 1.5 percentage points to 11.4% in May (not seasonally adjusted).
  • Long-term unemployment—the number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more—held relatively steady at 478,000 in May.

Students start off the summer ahead of 2020 but behind 2019

  • In May 2021, the unemployment rate among returning students was 23.1%, compared with 40.0% in May 2020 and 13.7% in May 2019.
  • Driven in part by labour market conditions faced by students, total employment among youth aged 15 to 24 fell by 27,000 (-1.2%).
  • Employment held steady among both women and men aged 25 to 54.
  • The participation rate for women aged 25 to 54 dropped for the second consecutive month, falling 0.5 percentage points to 83.1%.
  • Among people aged 55 and older, employment was little changed for men, while it fell 18,000 (-1.0%) among women.

Employment declines hit goods-producing sector

  • In May, total employment in the goods-producing sector decreased for the first time since April 2020.
  • The number of people working in manufacturing fell by 36,000 (-2.0%), the first decline in the industry since April 2020.
  • Employment also fell in retail trade (-29,000) and “other services” (-24,000), two industries that continue to be affected by ongoing public health restrictions.
  • There were employment gains in transportation and warehousing (+22,000) and natural resources (+8,600).
  • Natural resources is the industry furthest along in its post-COVID recovery, with employment surpassing February 2020 levels by 29,000 (+9.3%).

Working from home remains an important adaptation during the third wave

The number of Canadians who worked from home and worked at least half of their usual hours was little changed in May at 5.1 million, similar to its level in spring 2020. After declining following the first wave of COVID-19, the number of people working from home has increased in recent months, largely as a result of tighter public health restrictions throughout the winter and spring.

Working from home continues to vary across industries, and these differences can impact some groups of workers more than others. For example, Filipino Canadian workers aged 15 to 69 were among the least likely (16.0%) to work from home in May, as many worked in industries, such as manufacturing, and health care and social assistance, where it is less feasible to work from home. On the other hand, larger proportions of Chinese Canadian (45.6%) and South Asian Canadian (36.1%) workers were working from home in May, partly because of their higher representation in professional, scientific, and technical services, and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing—two industries where a high share of workers have been able to work from home.

To read the full report, visit the Statistics Canada website. 

Source: Statistics Canada