Ottawa's unemployment rate has been rising
In 2006, Ottawa's unemployment rate dropped significantly below provincial and national rates, and has remained lower since that time. Federal government employment provided some buffer during the 2008 economic downturn. However, in recent years Ottawa's unemployment rate has been creeping up. It is now close to converging with provincial and national rates, which have steadily declined since 2009.
Ottawa's unemployment rate would have risen more sharply if it were not for the fact that in recent years many workers have left the labour market. The participation rate was close to 73% in 2008, and had dropped to just over 69% by 2015.
Unemployment rates in this graphic were calculated using 3-month moving averages.
- Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 282-0135
Several other key employment trends and conditions, including youth unemployment, are cause for concern
In 2015, the youth unemployment rate in Ottawa increased to 15%, the highest it has been in over a decade and higher than the other five largest Canadian cities. In Ontario, 48 percent of youth say there are not enough entry-level jobs, compared to 32 percent in the rest of Canada.
Also in 2015, 18% of jobs in Ottawa were part-time. This is slightly higher than the national level. For many, part-time employment is a choice or is necessitated by life circumstances. So the availability of jobs that do not require full-time commitment can be positive. But about 30% of Ontarians who work part time are interested in full time work -- a proportion that is significantly higher than a decade ago.
Also disturbing is the high proportion of employees earning minimum wage in Ontario, almost 12% in 2014.
The percentage of individuals in Ontario who work part-time but are interested in full time work is based on individuals working part-time for the reasons listed below.
-Business conditions, did not look for full-time work in last month
-Could not find full-time work, did not look for full-time work in last month
-Business conditions, looked for full-time work in last month
-Could not find full-time work, looked for full-time work in last month
- Block, Sheila. A Higher Standard: The case for holding low-wage employers in Ontario to a higher standard. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario. June 2015
- Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 282-0129
- McKinsey & Company. Youth in transition: Bridging Canada’s path from education to employment. April 2015.
Unemployment rates are high for new immigrants in Ottawa, but fall off with length of residency
In 2011 Ottawa's overall unemployment rate was 5.8%, and Canada's was 7.5%. In that same year, unemployment in Ottawa stood at 16% among immigrants who had arrived within the preceding five years. What's more, this was significantly higher than the 13% unemployment rate nationally for the same demographic.
The picture improves significantly for immigrant populations the longer they have been here. Unemployment levels among those who arrived ten to fifteen years ago are still higher than the Ottawa and national averages, but are much lower than for new immigrants. This trend continues to the point that unemployment rates among Ottawa immigrants who arrived 25 or more years ago are well below the national average rate.
- Statistics Canada. National Household Survey 2011. Retrieved using the Data Consortium
A strong reliance on public sector jobs continues
In 2014, 20% of Ottawa's workforce held jobs in the public sector. Not surprisingly, as Canada's capital, this is a higher proportion than any other city in Canada. An equal proportion was employed in the health and education sector, also high compared to other cities in Canada.
Drawing on the educational strength of its residents, key private sector elements of Ottawa's economy include professional services, and information and technology. These services also benefit from federal demand, and saw significant employment declines with federal spending cuts implemented by the previous federal government.
Another sector where there has been significant recent change is construction, with 13% lower employment in 2014 compared to 2008. However, a growing number of major construction and renovation projects including light-rail transit, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and the National Arts Centre, will drive more activity in the construction sector for the next several years.
- City of Ottawa 2015. 2014 Annual Development Report. Accessed April 11, 2016.