Ontario’s Labour Market: Part-time gains, long-term pain

This morning’s job numbers from Statistics Canada report that Ontario created 13,400 net new jobs in March.  That’s the largest gain in seven months – a fact that masks a loss of 6,500 full-time jobs in exchange for 19,900 part-time positions.

The good news is the employment rate for prime-aged workers increased by 0.1 percentage points.  The youth employment rate increased by almost 1 percentage point.  At the same time, the participation rate of prime-aged workers decreased as 15,000 prime-aged workers left the labour force.

The March job numbers continue to tell the story of uneven job creation across the province and a labour market that is shifting away from full-time, goods-producing jobs to more jobs in the service sector, many of which are part-time.

Like the rest of Canada, much of the employment gains came in the form of increased part-time employment for youth, aged 15-24. This age group lost 1,300 full-time jobs and gained 16,900 part-time jobs.

Even with an increase in part-time work, the share of part-time employees involuntarily working part-time dropped 1.3 percentage points.  This was, in large part, the result of more part-time workers being enrolled in school. That said, the percentage of Ontarians who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work was 31% in March.

Of the employment gains that were made, the largest increase was found in professional, scientific and technical services, followed by accommodation and food services and other services.  The largest losses were recorded in the manufacturing sector and in trade.

Across the province only three economic regions experienced a net gain in employment: Hamilton-Niagara, Ottawa and Muskoka-Kawarthas.  At the same time, Windsor experienced a net loss of 3,400 jobs – more than one-third in the services producing sector and London lost 2,300 jobs – almost entirely in the goods producing sector.   At 11%, Kingston-Pembroke is currently home to the highest unemployment rate across the province.

And a final note: self-employment is the flavor of the month as virtually all of the employment gains were made by self-employed individuals with no employees.  Employment in both the private and public sectors shrank.

Kaylie Tiessen is an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario Office (CCPA Ontario). Follow her on Twitter @kaylietiessen

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