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    Employment little changed and unemployment rate down in December 2020

    Montréal, January 8, 2021. – Employment was little changed (-16,800; -0.4%) in Québec in December from November 2020. The unemployment rate declined 0.5 percentage points in December to 6.7%. These are the main highlights from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey results released today.

    Employment has increased by 692,900 since May, which represents more than 84% of the 820,500 jobs lost between February and April 2020.

    In December, full-time (-7,900) and part-time (-9,000) employment both decreased. Employment was down in the public sector (-27,400), but increased in the private sector (+6,100) and among the self-employed (+4,400). The participation rate was down 0.6 points to 63.8%. The employment rate declined by 0.2 points to 59.6%. 

    In Canada, in December, employment decreased by 62,600 (-0.3%). The unemployment rate edged up 0.1 points to 8.6%. The largest employment losses were recorded in Québec (-16,800), Ontario (-11,900) and Alberta (-11,900).

    Employment in Québec in 2020

    In 2020, employment in Québec declined by 200,700 (-4.6%) from 2019. During this period, full-time and part-time employment were down by 106,500 and 94,200, respectively. Employment decreased by 177,100 in the private sector and by 26,700 among self-employed workers. Public sector employment was little changed (+3,100).

    For 2020 as a whole, the unemployment rate in Québec averaged 8.8% (9.5% in Canada), up 3.7% from the rate in 2019.

    Note: Statistics Canada will publish its revised employment data for 2020 at the end of January. Subsequently, in February, the Institut de la statistique du Québec will publish a full portrait of the evolution of Québec’s labour market in 2020.

    Changes in employment and trend-cycle data, Québec, December 2019 to December 2020

    Évolution de l’emploi et de la tendance-cycle, Québec, décembre 2019 à décembre 2020

    Note : Trend-cycle data are a smoothed version of seasonally-adjusted data where the effects of irregular movements have been reduced. They are helpful in analyzing long-term changes in the data. For more information: Statistics Canada, Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
    Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2020. Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    Changes in the unemployment rate, Québec, December 2019 to December 2020

    Changes in the unemployment rate, Québec, December 2019 to December 2020

    Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2020. Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    A word of caution regarding the effects of COVID-19 on LFS data

    The effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the labour market in December must be interpreted with caution when analyzing Labour Force Survey (LFS) data.

    The survey reference period for December extends from December 6 to 12. The correct categorization of individual labour force status according to the usual definitions of employment, unemployment1 and inactivity may have been more difficult in this edition of the survey, as has been the case since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 section of the Institut de la statistique du Québec’s website provides analyses of the pandemic’s impact in Québec. It should also be noted that the monthly data are based on a sample and are therefore subject to a certain amount of variability.

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    1 The Labour Force Survey defines unemployed persons as those who, during the reference week: 1- were on temporary layoff with an expectation of recall and were available for work; or 2- were without work, had looked for work in the past four weeks, and were available for work; or 3- had a new job to start within four weeks, and were available for work.


    The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society.  It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest.  The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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