Construction Employment Falls In April

May 15, 2024 | Economic News and Forecasts

May 15, 2024 - Statistics Canada released its Labour Force Survey (LFS) last Friday. Headline unemployment held at 6.1%, but 90,000 new jobs were created; 50,000 of these jobs were part-time. April 2023 unemployment was 5.1%. In the 12 months to April 2024, a total of 377,000 new jobs were created, most of them (273,000) being full-time. The employment rate (percentage of those aged 15 or older who are actually employed) was also unchanged from March at 61.4%. Year-over-year, the employment rate has fallen by 0.9 percentage points. Hours worked rose 0.8% in April and a total of 1.2% compared to April 2023. Year-over-year, wages have grown by 4.7% to $34.95; this is a slower pace than the 5.1% year-over-year rate posted in March.

Easing wage growth, rising unemployment and a falling employment rate all point to a softening economy. Assuming April and May's inflation prints continue to show slowing CPI (especially in the Bank of Canada's core measures) and Q1 GDP growth is relatively slow, this gives the Bank room to begin lowering interest rates at their June meeting.

In the construction sector, national employment fell by 0.7% (11,100 jobs) in April compared to March, and 0.3% (5,100 jobs) compared to a year ago. Provincially, employment was up in all provinces except Ontario (-3.3%) and Manitoba (-1.9%). The biggest gainers were PEI (+3.9%) followed by Saskatchewan (+3.5%). Alberta was relatively flat. In terms of numbers employed, BC gained 3,800 followed by Quebec (2,000). Ontario shed 19,600 construction jobs and Manitoba lost 1,100.

Year-over year, the picture is slightly more mixed, with all provinces except Saskatchewan (-5.1%; 2,200 jobs), BC (-4.7%; 11,500 jobs) and Ontario (-3.9%; 23,600 jobs) posting gains. The biggest winner was New Brunswick, where construction employment grew by 22.8% (6,700 jobs) compared to April 2023. PEI (+9.6% or 700 jobs) and Alberta (+5.8% or 13,800 jobs) were the other big gainers.

Looking at wages and hours worked, construction is part of the larger "Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations, except management". In April 2024, the average hourly wage for this group was $31.97, up from April 2023's $31.15 - a gain of 2.63%. Average weekly hours worked fell 0.25%, from 39.6 in 2023 to 39.5 in 2024. Average weekly wages grew from $1,251.40 in 2023 to $1,280.15 in 2024, an increase of 2.30%. Slightly over 92% of the employees in this group are full-time.

For comparison, nationally, average weekly hours fell from 35.3 to 35.2 (-.28%). Average weekly wages were $1,277.04 in 2024 compared with $1,221.10 in 2023 (+4.6%). About 82.4% of the national work force is full time.

The full report is available here.

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