On-Site Magazine

Employment hits a rough patch in August

By Adam Freill   

Construction Labour

Almost 50,000 fewer people working in August as employment dips in Canada’s construction sector.

Overall payroll employment decline in August largely concentrated in construction. (Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (2612), table 14-10-0220-01)

A drop of more than 22,000 workers in the construction sector had a major influence on the August payroll employment numbers in August, reports Statistics Canada in its most recent Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours.

Across the sectors in the survey, the number of employees receiving pay and benefits from their employer declined by 46,800 in August, following little change in July. Meanwhile, job vacancies remained on a downward trend, edging down from 697,900 in July to 682,400 in August.

Construction’s loss of 22,300 was the largest payroll employment decline for a single sector in August, followed by manufacturing, which was off by 4,500 positions from July. The August construction figure was the first drop in payroll employment for the sector since March.

Overall growth in construction has slowed in 2023, following stronger gains in the second half of 2022. The sector recorded a net decline of 5,400 (-0.5 per cent) from December 2022 to August 2023, compared with an increase of 23,800 (+2.1 per cent) from July to December 2022.


The monthly decrease in August was mainly concentrated in specialty trade contractors, a group that declined by 13,000. That segment includes building equipment contractors, which were down 4,600, and foundation, structure and building exterior contractors, which were off by 4,000. Declines were also recorded in non-residential building construction (-3,900), heavy and civil engineering construction (-3,700) and residential building construction (-1,700).

Job vacancies remained on a downward trend in August 2023, hitting their lowest level since May of 2021. Total labour demand, or the sum of filled and vacant positions, was little changed for the month compared with the beginning of the year, as job vacancies have fallen by 181,700, or more than 20 per cent, over the period, while payroll employment has increased by one per cent with a gain of 162,300.

The job vacancy rate, which corresponds to the number of vacant positions as a proportion of total labour demand, was 3.8 per cent in August, virtually unchanged compared with July, but down from 4.8 per cent observed at the start of the year.




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