Payroll and Job Vacancies in December 2021

Statistics Canada

The number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer—measured by the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours as payroll employment—rose by 122,200 (+0.7%) in December, the seventh consecutive monthly increase.

The gains in December brought payroll employment above its pre-pandemic level for the first time, surpassing the February 2020 level by 60,400 (+0.4%). The widespread emergence of the Omicron variant, and associated adjustments to public health measures, occurred later in December and were not observed in December payroll employment.

Payroll employment was up in nine provinces in December, while there was little change in Nova Scotia. Ontario (+70,100; +1.1%) and Quebec (+20,600; +0.5%) saw the largest increases in December. The only provinces where payroll employment had not yet reached pre-COVID levels in December were Alberta (-34,400; -1.7%), Ontario (-32,100; -0.5%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-2,000; -0.9%).

In the goods-producing sector, payroll employment rose by 9,200 (+0.3%) in December, driven by gains in construction (+6,400; +0.6%). All goods-producing sectors had either returned to or surpassed their pre-COVID level, except for manufacturing (-19,200; -1.2%).

As winter approached, job vacancies in construction fell to 61,800 in December, the third consecutive monthly decline from a record high (81,700) reached in September. While some of the decline observed in December may have been due to seasonal patterns, the number of job vacancies in construction was 88.2% (+29,000) higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019. The job vacancy rate was 5.2%, up from 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

There were 73,900 vacant positions in manufacturing in December, down 9.7% (-7,900) from the previous month, but up 75.2% (+31,700) compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.

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