May 2022 Labour Force Update

Employment rose by 40,000 in Canada during May, according to new statistics released by Statistics Canada1 on Friday, June 10, 2022. Unemployment reached a record low of 5.1%. The growth in jobs continues a trend that paused in April, and was driven mainly by gains in full time work amongst women. There are now 497,000 more jobs in Canada than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic began, and 1.1 million more than there were in May of 2021 when the country dealt with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Absences due to illness or disability remained steady at 6.2%, above the 5.5% average rate experienced in May of 2017-2019, but far below 10% rate seen in January of 2022. 

Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low

Unemployment dipped by 0.1%, to a new record low of 5.1% in May, the third straight month where a new benchmark has been set in that category. Significant year-over-year decreases in unemployment has been experienced by First Nations women (-9.3% to 7.3%), Southeast Asian women (-6.3% to 4.1%), and Filipino men (-4.7% to 3.4%).

Services-Producing Sector adds Jobs, Goods-Producing Slides

The services-producing sector added 81,000 jobs in May, with accommodation and food services added 20,000, and professional, scientific and technical services growing by 21,000. 

Meanwhile, the goods-producing sector lost 41,000. This category had grown from October to March, but seems to have peaked in April. 

Manufacturing saw 43,000 jobs disappear in May, reversing a trend of growth and returning to May 2021 levels. 

Employment up in Alberta, Atlantic Canada

Employment was up in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Alberta in May. New Brunswick saw a decrease, while other provinces experienced little change. Despite 4,100 new jobs, Newfoundland and Labrador’s 10% unemployment rate remains the highest amongst provinces. 

Alberta’s 28,000 new jobs builds upon increases seen in April. Unemployment in the province fell 0.6% to 5.3% as 11,000 jobs were added in professional, scientific and technical services and 8,000 were gained in transportation and warehousing. 

New Brunswick’s loss of 3,900 jobs made it the only province to experience a drop in employment. 

IndustryMay 2022 ChangeApril 2022 Change
Natural Resources ( Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction)8.3-1.7
Transportation & Warehousing-24.76.7
Finance & Insurance-18.5-1.6
Wholesale & Retail Trade37.8-17.9
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services20.515.1
Information, Culture and Recreation5.212.6
Accommodation & Food Services19.84.2
Business, Building & Other Support Services12-3.3

Figures displayed are Canada-wide and x 1000

Local Companies Often Able to Outbid Multinationals

As labour markets tighten, Goldbeck President Henry Goldbeck has found that smaller and mid-sized companies often have the flexibility to outbid their larger counterparts for top talent.2 

“We have some clients that are multi-national organizations looking for sales people and they recognize locally that their salaries are not competitive, but because of the size of the company and the bureaucracy involved they are not able to respond and increase salaries,” says Goldbeck. “It’s an interesting phenomenon to see.”

Widening Parameters in Recruiting

Some companies are worried that they’ll be unable to compete on salary and will therefore be forced to hire under-qualified staff. 

“Underqualified is a loaded term,” says Goldbeck, who concedes that companies are forced to respond to labour market conditions when recruiting. “If they can’t raise salaries, they’ll have to adjust their parameters and be willing to accept less experienced candidates.”  

Employee Retention

“The biggest thing is to be aware of is the fact that  your employees are probably getting calls from recruiters,” advises Goldbeck. “People are aware that it is an employee market and they’re curious about what opportunities there are for them.”

Although counter offers are commonly given, and often accepted, Goldbeck advises a more proactive approach to employee retention. 

“If they walk into your office and give their resignation, you’re late in the game,” he says. “If you value your employees, ask yourself what can be done to increase loyalty. It could be as simple as talking to them and finding out what’s important to them, what they do and don’t like, like a performance review in reverse.” 

Managing Remote and Hybrid Work Forces

As companies return their employees to the office, and other companies scrap plans to do so, Goldbeck reflects on the nature of the grand experiment in working remotely. 

“The companies that have adapted best probably already had pretty good management systems in place, in terms of delegating, understanding and measuring the work that their employees were doing without having to watch over them physically.”

Cited Sources
1 Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. “Labour Force Survey, May 2022.” The Daily – , June 10, 2022.
2 Personal Communication with Henry Goldbeck