On-Site Magazine

Construction labour takes a hit in December

By Adam Freill   

Construction Labour

Canada’s employment levels were flat in the final month of 2023, despite the construction sector shedding more than 13,000 workers.

Employment gains in professional, scientific and technical services roles offset losses in the construction, agricultural, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade sectors. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey (3701), table 14-10-0355-01.)

Canadian employment was virtually unchanged in December, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 per cent, reports Statistics Canada in its most recent Labour Force Survey. The picture for the construction sector was not quite as good, however, as it was one of the components that found itself on the wrong side of the reporting line as the year came to a close.

According to the data, this past December saw Canada’s construction sector with 1,581,600 workers, a drop of 13,900, or 0.9 per cent, from November. The sector was also down 0.8 per cent from one year earlier.

Looking across all industries, there was zero change in overall employment numbers for the month, which followed little change in November, where 25,000 jobs were added, a rise of 0.1 per cent, and the addition of 18,000 jobs in October, another 0.1 per cent increase. Employment growth slowed in the second half of 2023, averaging 23,000 per month, compared with the first six months of 2023, when it averaged 48,000 per month.

By sector, there were 46,000 more people employed in professional, scientific and technical services, 16,000 in health care and social assistance, and 12,000 more in the “other services” category, which includes personal and repair services. Declines were felt in five industries, led by a drop of 21,000 in wholesale and retail trade, and a loss of 18,000 positions in manufacturing, to go along with the dip in the construction industry.


Overall, the national employment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 61.6 per cent, as the population aged 15 and older grew by 74,000 (0.2 per cent). The employment rate has trended down in 2023, as population growth generally outpaced employment gains.

Also holding steady in December was the unemployment rate, which remained at 5.8 per cent. The rate has been on the rise lately, increasing in five of the previous seven months to go from five per cent to 5.8 between April and November. In December, there were 1.2 million unemployed people in Canada, an increase of 202,000, or 19.3 per cent, compared with 12 months earlier.




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