January to December, 2021
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About the Ontario Employment Report – January to December, 2021
The Ontario Employment Report is released four times a year and provides an assessment of the current trends and developments in the Ontario labour market. The Ontario Employment Report is a companion report to the Ontario Economic Accounts, which provides an overall assessment of the current state of the Ontario economy.
The report for the fourth quarter of 2021 provides an assessment of Ontario’s labour market for the entire year, comparing annual averages, while the approach used in earlier quarterly reports was to measure year-over-year changes in quarterly data.
In the current issue, year-over-year change represents change between 2020 and 2021. Longer-term trends are included for select labour market characteristics and provide historical context.
All estimates in the report are based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), which measures the current state of the national, provincial and territorial labour market. The LFS is based on a household survey carried out monthly by Statistics Canada in reference weeks of the month. All estimates in this report include the population aged 15 years and over, unless otherwise indicated.
Impact of COVID‑19 on the labour market
Ontario's labour market has experienced unprecedented changes because of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Beginning in mid-March 2020, numerous travel restrictions, business closures and physical distancing measures were put in place by various levels of government to help contain the spread of COVID‑19 and protect the health of Ontarians. As a result of the pandemic, there was a sharp decline in employment between February to May 2020, which was more severe compared to previous recessions.
In 2021, employment growth declined in January, April and May as Ontario introduced additional targeted public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID‑19. Since June 2021, employment in Ontario increased for seven consecutive months and as of September 2021, employment surpassed its pre-COVID‑19 level in February 2020.
Key labour market indicators, 2021
- +344,800 net jobs in 2021, year-over-year
- +273,400 net full-time jobs in 2021, year-over-year
- 8.0% in 2021
- 64.9% in 2021
Employment change by province, 2021
In 2021, Ontario’s employment increased by 4.9% (+344,800), the largest annual increase on record for Ontario
Ontario’s labour market, 1976-2021
In 2021, the unemployment rate in Ontario was 8.0%, above the Canadian rate (7.5%) and the fifth lowest rate among provinces. In 2021, the annual decrease in the unemployment rate (-1.6 percentage points) was the largest on record.
In 2021, the labour force participation rate in Ontario increased by 1.3 percentage points to 64.9%, which was below the Canadian rate (65.1%) and the same compared to prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic in 2019.
Highlights in 2021
- employment increased among both part-time and full-time workers
- the private sector and public sector experienced employment growth, while self-employment declined
- employment increased in both the services-producing and goods-producing industries with the largest increase in professional, scientific and technical services, as well as health care and social assistance
- among broad occupational groups, business, finance and administration occupations and natural and applied sciences and related occupations saw the largest increases in employment
- employment increased in all the five regions, with Southwestern Ontario recording the highest percentage increase in employment
- part-time and higher-wage workers, very recent immigrants, youth, females and those with a postsecondary credential experienced relatively larger employment gains
- weekly hours worked increased for both full- and part-time workers and there were substantially fewer workers working reduced hours. However, the number of those working reduced hours was still higher compared to 2019
- the average hourly wage of employees was $30.82, a decrease of 1.5% after accounting for inflation
Type of work
Employment change by full-time, part-time status, 2021
In 2021, employment in Ontario increased by 4.9%, driven by increases in both full-time (+273,400, +4.7%) and part-time positions (+71,300, +5.8%).
Employment change by employment sector, 2021
The private sector had the largest increase in employment (+265,700, +5.8%), followed by the public sector
Industry and occupation
In 2021, employment increased in both goods-producing (+55,900, +4.0%) and services-producing (+289,000, +5.2%) industries.
Employment change by industry, goods-producing industries, 2021
Among goods-producing industries, manufacturing recorded the highest employment growth (+5.2%), followed by construction (+3.7%) and utilities (+5.3%). Agriculture (-6.1%) and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-0.8%) recorded employment declines.
Employment change by industry, services-producing industries, 2021
Most services-producing industries experienced employment growth in 2021. Professional, scientific and technical services industries (+11.1%) had the greatest net employment growth, followed by health care and social assistance (+5.6%) and wholesale and retail trade (+4.4%). Business, building and other support services (-2.6%) and other services (except public administration) (-3.2%) were the only two industries that experienced employment declines.
Employment change by occupational group, 2021
Among broad occupational groups, business, finance and administration occupations (+8.8%) saw the largest increase in employment followed by natural and applied sciences and related occupations (+8.7%) and education, law and social, community and government services (+6.3%). Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations was the only broad occupational group to experience a decline in employment (-4.4%).
Employment change by region, 2021
In 2021, all Ontario regions experienced employment growth. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) experienced the largest employment increase (+169,600); however, Southwestern Ontario experienced the greatest percentage increase in employment (+7.9%), followed by the GTA (+5.0%).
Unemployment rate by region, 2021
In 2021, the unemployment rate decreased in every region. The GTA had the highest unemployment rate (9.0%) while Eastern Ontario had the lowest unemployment rate (6.5%).
Participation rate by region, 2021
In 2021, the participation rate increased in every region except in Northern Ontario (-0.3 percentage point). The GTA had the highest participation rate (67.0%), while Northern Ontario had the lowest participation rate (58.1%).
Employment change by age group and gender, 2021
In 2021, employment increased for all age groups and for both females and males. Females (+5.5%) experienced a greater increase in employment compared to males (+4.4%). Employment levels increased the most for core-aged workers aged 25 to 54 years (+197,400, +4.3%), while youth aged 15 to 24 years registered the greatest percentage increase in employment (+10.2%).
Employment change by education level, 25 to 54 years, 2021
Among the core-aged population, employment increased for those with a postsecondary credential, driven by university graduates (+187,200, +7.4%) and those with a postsecondary certificate or diploma (+110,200, +5.3%). Those with less than a high school credential experienced the greatest percentage decline in employment (-4.3%).
Employment change by immigrant status, 25 to 54 years, 2021
In 2021, both landed immigrants and those born in Canada experienced an increase in employment, with very recent immigrants recording the greatest percentage increase in employment (+10.4%), followed by established immigrants (+7.4%), recent immigrants (+6.4%), and those born in Canada (+1.8%).
Real hourly wage change by type of work, 2021
In 2021, the average hourly wage of Ontario employees was $30.82 per hour, an increase of 1.9% or a decrease of 1.5% in real terms
Real average wages declined for both full-time and part-time workers in 2021, after significant growth in 2020, which was in part due to compositional changes in employment. In 2021, real hourly wages of permanent workers decreased by 1.5%, while those of temporary workers increased by 0.4%. Real hourly wages of both unionized and non-unionized employees decreased.
Average hourly wage by occupational group, 2021
In 2021, employees in management occupations had the highest average hourly wage ($51.01), followed by natural and applied sciences and related occupations ($40.68) and occupations in education, law and social, community and government services ($37.07). Employees in sales and service occupations had the lowest average hourly wage ($20.00).
Employment change by hourly wage, 2021
In 2021, employment of workers earning less than $20.00 per hour increased by 0.4%, while employment of those earning from $20.00 to $39.99 per hour increased by 8.4% and employment of those earning $40.00 or more increased by 9.2%.
Total weekly hours worked, 1997-2021
In 2021, total weekly hours worked
Employment by reduced hours, 1997-2021
In 2021, there were an estimated 455,100 employees who worked reduced hours, including 346,800 of those who worked zero hours
Average actual hours worked by worker status, worked in reference week, all jobs, 2019, 2020 and 2021
In 2021, part-time workers worked 18.2 hours per week, an increase of 0.5 hours compared to 2020. Those who worked full-time worked 39.9 hours per week, an increase of 0.5 hours compared to 2020. However, the average total hours worked by all workers in all jobs increased by 0.3 hours, in part due to the greater percentage increase in part-time employment.
Unemployment rate by province, 2021
In 2021, all provinces experienced a decline in their unemployment rate. Ontario’s unemployment rate declined to 8.0%, a 1.6 percentage points decrease compared to 2020. Ontario had the fifth lowest unemployment rate among the ten provinces and was 0.5 percentage point above the Canadian rate of 7.5%. Quebec had the lowest unemployment rate (6.1%) and Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest (12.9%).
Unemployment rate by age group, 1997-2021
In 2021, the unemployment rate decreased for youth aged 15 to 25 years (-6.3 percentage points) and the core-aged population aged 25 to 54 years (-1.1 percentage points) but remained elevated compared to 2019. The unemployment rate for the older population aged 55 years and over experienced a slight increase compared to 2020 (+0.2 percentage point). Youth had the highest unemployment rate (15.7%), followed by the older population (7.2%) and the core-aged population (6.6%).
Share of long-term unemployment, 1997-2021
Long-term unemployment (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) as a share of total unemployment experienced a sharp increase from 14.7% in 2020 to almost doubling to 28.3% in 2021, reaching the highest point since 1997.
The average duration of unemployment in 2021 was 23.2 weeks, 7.9 weeks higher than the average in 2020 (15.3 weeks).
Participation rate by province, 2021
In 2021, Ontario’s participation rate for people aged 15 years and over was 64.9%, an increase of 1.3 percentage points compared to 2020. The participation rate in Ontario was lower than the Canadian rate by 0.2 percentage point and ranked sixth out of the ten provinces. Participation rates in all other provinces also increased in 2021.
While Ontario’s participation rate has been on the decline since 2003, in part due to an aging population, the bounce back experienced in 2021 (+1.3 percentage points) brought it back to the same rate as 2019, mitigating the sharp decline experienced in 2020. In 2021, there were 213,600 people who wanted work but were not part of the labour force, which is 32.2% less than in 2020.
Participation rate by gender, 2021
In 2021, the participation rate of males increased by 1.3 percentage points to 69.7%, recovering from the decline experienced in 2020 and rising 0.2 percentage point above its pre-pandemic rate in 2019. The participation rate of females also increased by 1.3 percentage points in 2021 to 60.2%, however, it is 0.2 percentage point below its pre-pandemic rate of 2019.
Participation rate by age group, 1997-2021
In 2021, the participation rate of the core-aged population increased by 2.0 percentage points to 86.9%. The participation rate of youth increased by 1.5 percentage points to 60.3%. The participation rate of the older population reached 38.5%, the highest rate since 1997.
10-year overview of annual employment
|Total Labour Force (000)||7,238.7||7,325.1||7,345.3||7,343.0||7,408.9||7,506.5||7,608.9||7,816.3||7,766.0||8,006.8|
|Participation Rate (%)||66.0||66.1||65.7||65.1||64.9||64.7||64.3||64.9||63.6||64.9|
|Male Participation Rate (%)||70.7||70.5||70.2||70.0||69.6||69.3||68.8||69.5||68.4||69.7|
|Female Participation Rate (%)||61.5||61.9||61.3||60.5||60.4||60.2||60.1||60.4||58.9||60.2|
|Total Employment (000)||6,666.7||6,768.1||6,809.1||6,845.4||6,921.4||7,052.5||7,173.3||7,376.9||7,021.6||7,366.4|
|Employment-Population Ratio (%)||60.8||61.1||60.9||60.7||60.6||60.8||60.6||61.2||57.5||59.7|
|Male Employment (000)||3,470.1||3,508.9||3,549.1||3,583.9||3,622.6||3,692.1||3,760.6||3,874.7||3,722.1||3,885.7|
|Female Employment (000)||3,196.6||3,259.1||3,260.1||3,261.4||3,298.8||3,360.4||3,412.7||3,502.2||3,299.6||3,480.8|
|Part-Time (% of total)||19.2||19.5||19.4||18.8||18.9||19.0||18.5||18.7||17.4||17.6|
|Goods-Producing Sector Employment (000)||1,406.8||1,381.0||1,366.4||1,393.8||1,425.1||1,439.4||1,463.9||1,467.3||1,410.7||1,466.6|
|Services-Producing Sector Employment (000)||5,259.9||5,387.1||5,442.7||5,451.6||5,496.3||5,613.1||5,709.5||5,909.7||5,610.9||5,899.9|
|Private Sector Employment (000)||4,347.1||4,405.3||4,473.5||4,505.5||4,544.1||4,640.1||4,716.7||4,830.6||4,542.0||4,807.7|
|Public Sector Employment (000)||1,289.5||1,310.0||1,298.1||1,281.2||1,293.7||1,318.8||1,359.7||1,375.4||1,358.8||1,456.9|
|Self-Employment (%of total)||15.4||15.6||15.2||15.5||15.7||15.5||15.3||15.9||16.0||15.0|
|Total Unemployment (000)||572.0||557.0||536.2||497.6||487.5||454.0||435.6||439.4||744.4||640.4|
|Unemployment Rate (%)||7.9||7.6||7.3||6.8||6.6||6.0||5.7||5.6||9.6||8.0|
|Male Unemployment Rate (%)||8.2||8.0||7.5||7.0||6.8||6.3||5.7||5.8||9.2||8.0|
|Female Unemployment Rate (%)||7.5||7.2||7.1||6.5||6.3||5.8||5.7||5.5||10.0||8.0|
|Long-Term (27 wks+) (% of total)||22.8||23.1||22.9||20.0||20.0||19.5||16.9||15.0||14.7||28.3|
|Average Unemployment in Weeks||22.3||21.9||22.5||20.0||20.0||19.3||17.2||15.8||15.3||23.2|
|Youth Unemployment Rate (%)||16.6||15.9||15.2||14.3||13.7||12.2||11.8||12.0||22||15.7|
|25-54 y.o. Unemployment rate (%)||6.5||6.3||6.0||5.6||5.5||5.1||4.8||4.6||7.7||6.6|
|55+ y.o. Unemployment rate (%)||5.9||5.6||5.5||5.0||5.0||4.6||4.3||4.2||7.0||7.2|
|Average Weekly Wage Rate ($)||883.62||896.44||907.05||938.01||958.16||965.71||998.41||1033.38||1113.99||1133.90|
|Average Hourly Wage Rate ($)||24.10||24.50||24.81||25.58||26.13||26.38||27.28||28.26||30.24||30.82|
Employment by region (000)
|Greater Toronto Area||3,099.6||3,214.9||3,202.7||3,264.8||3,303.9||3,363.5||3,432.8||3,548.3||3,381.8||3,551.4|
Unemployment rate by region (%)
|Greater Toronto Area||8.8||8.2||8.0||7.1||7.0||6.5||6.2||6.0||10.7||9.0|
Total employment by CMA (000)
Greater Toronto Area
Note: All estimates in this appendix are based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.
- footnote Back to paragraph Since 1976, as this is the earliest year of the Labour Force Survey data available on statcan.gc.ca.
- footnote Back to paragraph Public sector includes the federal, provincial, territorial and local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, and government business enterprises.
- footnote Back to paragraph Real wages are based on nominal wages deflated by the Ontario Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items. Self-employment is excluded.
- footnote Back to paragraph Comparisons are based on nominal wages.
- footnote Back to paragraph This is a 12-month average of the total number of hours actually worked by all employed persons in the Labour Force Survey reference weeks.
- footnote Back to paragraph Employed, worked zero hours includes employees and self-employed who were absent from work all week, but excludes people who have been away for reasons such as 'vacation,' 'maternity,' 'seasonal business 'and labour dispute.'
- footnote Back to paragraph Employed, worked less than half of their usual hours includes both employees and self-employed, where only employees were asked to provide a reason for the absence. This excludes reasons for absence such as 'vacation,' 'labour dispute,' 'maternity,' 'holiday,' and 'weather.' Also excludes those who were away all week.
- footnote Back to paragraph This analysis includes only those workers that were at work during the Labour Force Survey reference week. When all employed persons are included, the average actual hours across all jobs were 33.0, above 31.6 in 2020 and the same level as in 2019.