August labour market data is in, so what’s changed?


Statistics Canada released August’s Labour Force Survey recently, and Alia Locken, Research Officer at the Skills Centre, has had an opportunity to review what’s changed. Here’s what we know.

In August, our region’s unemployment rate increased to 5.1% up from 3.9% in July (3 month moving average, seasonally unadjusted). This rate is higher than the province’s 4.8% yet lower than Canada at 5.4% (seasonally adjusted). Our region’s unemployment rate was 6.7% this time last year and 11.5% in August 2020.

An increasing unemployment rate typically coincides with there being more job seekers than available jobs, but that’s not necessarily what’s happening.

Nationally, employment is down 40,000 jobs with the unemployment rate rising to 5.4%. This is the first rise in seven months and not related to public health restrictions. The drop in employment was among youth, mostly women, ages 15–24 and people ages 55–64. These are two groups we can help with specific programs.

There was an increase in job seekers, yet recruitment challenges will likely continue for employers: the number of unemployed people was lower than job vacancies. Coupled with many workers reaching retirement age, this added to an already tight labour market.

The unemployment rate for immigrants was lower but remained 2.6% higher than for people born in Canada. Key to supporting economic growth is immigration, yet many recent immigrants face unemployment when they enter the Canadian labour market.

The local news
Local employers and industry noted that these tight labour market conditions are also present in our communities. Accounts of challenges filling vacant positions and concerns about keeping employees have persisted for employers in our region.

The latest numbers also show:

  • Hybrid working arrangements continued to trend upwards with a .7% increase
  • Average hourly wages rose 5.4% to $31.33 per hour (up $1.60)
  • 1 in 10 permanent employees plan to leave their job over the next year, with a career change being the main reason
  • Inflation remained high at 7.6%, down from 8.1% in June. The slow in inflation is attributed to decreased gasoline prices while prices of other commodities, such as groceries, continued to rise.
  • Students ages 15 to 24 enrolled in full time studies saw an August employment rate of 55.6%. This is similar to last year and pre-pandemic (August 2019) rates.

Are you a job seeker? Labour market conditions continue to be in your favour! Connect with us to learn tools to job search effectively and get the most out of your applications. Check out our job board. We post new and exciting opportunities daily.

Are you an employer? Evaluating and evolving recruitment and retention practices remains a priority. Posting to a local job board can help you reach a broader audience. The Skills Centre offers this service for free.

Interested in the full survey? Check it out here.
Looking for key definitions? Our July blog can help!

Alia Locken, Research Officer at the Skills Centre, prepared the statistical interpretations of Statistics Canada’s data release. If you have any information and/or questions, or would be interested in sharing about your experience in our local labour market, contact Alia at or by phone at (250)368-6360 ext 223.

*Seasonally unadjusted/actual = data that does not remove regular seasonal events.
**Seasonally adjusted = data that removes changes caused by regular annual seasonal events that happen each year