Looking at the unemployment figures of a country can be an indicator of its economic situation. When the economy is strong, unemployment generally goes down. In Canada, similarly to many other countries, unemployment peaked during COVID-19 but has since returned to more normal figures.

In this article, we look at the latest unemployment statistics in Canada, including unemployment rates across the provinces and territories, in different age groups, and among men and women. We also look at the unemployment rates across the world, including the world’s largest economies to see how Canada compares internationally.

Unemployment Statistics for Canadians

  • Canada’s unemployment rate almost doubled during COVID-19, with the highest peak, at 13.4%, in May 2020.
  • Canada’s unemployment rate was 5.8% in December 2023.
  • Nunavut has the highest unemployment rate in Canada at 11.7%
  • The lowest unemployment rates in Canada are in Manitoba at 4.23% and Yukon at 3.9%.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest unemployment rate among men and women, at 12.6% and 8.6%, respectively.
  • At 9.5%, unemployment is higher among young Canadians than in other age groups.
  • The unemployment rate among young Canadian males increased by 2.5% in one month.
  • The finance, insurance, and real estate sector had the lowest rate of unemployment, at 1.3%, in Canada at the end of 2022.
  • South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world while Qatar has the lowest at 29.8% and 0.1%.
  • Among the largest economies in the world, Japan had the lowest unemployment rate in August 2023 at 2.7%.

Unemployment in Canada

Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.7%. When the pandemic forced people to stay at home and businesses in several industries, including hospitality, beauty, and fitness industries had to close their doors, the unemployment rate rocketed.

The overall unemployment rate for 2020 was 9.72% with the highest peak in May when the unemployment rate rose to 13.4%. When restrictions were slowly lifted and businesses could reopen their doors, the employment rate began to recover with the overall employment rate falling from almost 10% to 7.51%

However, that was still higher than the pre-pandemic unemployment rate in Canada. It took another year for the rate to fall back to more normal figures. The average unemployment rate for 2022 was 5.28%.

Unemployment Rates Across Canada

The unemployment rate in Canada was 5.8% in December 2023, the same as it was in November and slightly higher than it was in the summer when it was 5.5%. In December 2023, 1.2 million people were unemployed in Canada. This was 202,000 more than in December 2022, representing a 19.3% increase in a year. 

However, the unemployment rates vary across the Canadian provinces and territories. Nunavut had the highest unemployment rate in Canada at 11.7%, while Yukon and Manitoba had the lowest at 3.9% and 4.2%, respectively, in December 2023. 

Here are the employment rates for all Canadian provinces and territories. The unemployment rates are from December 2023.

  • Alberta 5.3%
  • British Columbia 5.6%
  • Manitoba 4.2%
  • New Brunswick 6.6%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 10.7%
  • Northwest Territories 5.9%
  • Nova Scotia 6%
  • Nunavut 11.7%
  • Ontario 6.3%
  • Prince Edward Island 8.1%
  • Quebec 4.7%
  • Saskatchewan 5%
  • Yukon 3.9%

Employment Rate and Population Growth

Even though the employment rate rose in August by 0.2%, or 40,000, employed persons, this was outpaced by a faster population growth rate. In August, Canada’s population grew by 103,000, or 0.3%. As a result, the number of Canadians aged 15 or over who are in part or full-time employment, fell by 0.1%.

However, this did not impact the unemployment rate, which stayed the same in August as it had been in July, following three consecutive rises in the rate in May, June, and July. Since April 2023, the unemployment rate has risen by 0.5% in Canada.

Unemployment Rates Among Canadian Men and Women

There are differences in the unemployment rates between Canadian men and women. For example, the unemployment rate for men over 15 years of age is 5.4% while it is 5.2% for women over 15.

The highest unemployment rate among men over 15 is in Newfoundland and Labrador at 12.6%. Newfoundland and Labrador also has the highest unemployment rate among women over 15 at 8.6%.

The lowest unemployment rates for male workers are in British Columbia with 4.6%, and Quebec and Manitoba both at 4.9%. The lowest rates for female workers are in Quebec with 3.8%, Saskatchewan with 3.9%, and British Columbia with 4.5%.

Unemployment in Different Age Groups

The unemployment rates differ between age groups and Canadians between 15 and 24 years of age are more likely to be unemployed compared to older Canadians. Overall, the unemployment rate is 11.3% in this age group with the highest unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador at 15.8% and the lowest in Quebec at 7.1%. The unemployment rate is higher among young men than women at 12.6% compared to 9.9%.

Unemployment is lowest among the core working age group, which is 25 to 54-year-olds. The overall unemployment rate for this age group is 4.6%. Newfoundland and Labrador once again has the highest unemployment rate at 7.8% and Quebec has the lowest at 3.8%. In this age group, women are slightly more likely to be unemployed at 4.6% compared to men at 4.5%.

The final age group is the over 55-year-olds where the overall unemployment rate is 4.7%. While the highest rate, at 12.2%, is again found in Newfoundland and Labrador, the lowest rate is in Saskatchewan at 3.0%. Men and women were equally likely to be unemployed in August 2023.

Changes in Unemployment Rates

After increasing by 0.6% in July, the unemployment rate among core-aged women fell by 0.4% in August. There was only a marginal change in the unemployment rate among men in the same age group.

The biggest change was in the employment rate of men aged 15 to 24 years. The unemployment rate among young Canadian males rose by 2.5%, while it remained virtually unchanged among women of the same age. Compared to August 2022, the unemployment rate was 1.6% higher among young men and 1.9% higher among young women.

Changes in Employment Rates

In August, employment increased among men and women aged 25 to 54 years by 0.5% and 0.3%. At the same time, employment among women over 55 declined by 1.3% and by 2.1% among young men. More young women found employment in August and their employment rate increased by 2.4%.

Unemployment Rates in Different Industries

The unemployment rates do not only vary across the provinces and territories, gender, and age groups but also between different industries. At the end of 2022, the accommodation and food services industry had one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada at 5.3%. However, this was a much-improved rate from the COVID-19 years.

The other industries, equalling the 5.3% unemployment rate were the forestry, fishing, mining, oil, and gas industry. These two industries were followed by business, building, and other support services at 4.8%.

At the end of 2022, the lowest unemployment rate was in the finance, insurance, and real estate industries at 1.3%. Other industries with unemployment rates below 2% were the utilities sector at 1.5%, health care and social assistance at 1.6%, and public administration at 1.7%.

How is the Unemployment Rate Likely to Change in Canada?

While predictions about future unemployment rates can be made based on past and current trends, it needs to be remembered that they may not always be accurate because unemployment rates are impacted by a range of variables, such as world events and population growth which in themselves are not always easily predictable.

However, based on historical and current data, Statista predicts that Canada’s unemployment rate will grow over the next few years. The projected unemployment rate for the end of 2023 is 5.83% which will further increase to 6.18% in 2024. It will decrease slightly in 2025 to 6.09% and then settle at 6% from 2026 until 2028.

Where Can You Find the Latest Information on Unemployment Figures in Canada?

Because the rate of unemployed persons changes every month, the Statistics of Canada and the Government of Canada update the information on unemployment on their websites every month. In Canada, they are the best sources of information on unemployment.

Highest and Lowest Unemployment Rates in the World

At the end of 2022, the highest unemployment rates were found in Africa and the occupied area of Palestine. The unemployment rate was the highest in South Africa at 29.8%. It was followed by Djibouti at 27.9%, West Bank and Gaza at 25.7%, Eswatini at 24.4%, and the Republic of Congo at 21.8%.

The lowest employment rate at the end of 2022 was in Qatar, where only 0.1% of working-age adults are not in employment. It was followed by Cambodia at 0.4%, Niger at 0.5%, Thailand at 0.9%, and Burundi at 1%.
Unemployment Rates in the World’s Largest Economies

When compared to the world’s largest economies, Canada’s unemployment rate is higher than, for example, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The unemployment figures for the ten largest economies in August 2023 were:

  • Japan: 2.7%
  • Russian Federation: 3.5%
  • United States: 3.8%
  • United Kingdom: 4.3%
  • China: 5.29%
  • Canada: 5.5%
  • Germany: 5.6%
  • France: 7.4%
  • Italy:7.6%
  • India: 7.9%

Conclusion

The unemployment rate in Canada is constantly changing based on the number of vacancies and job seekers. Canada’s unemployment rate stabilised in August after three months of increases. The increases were largely due to the population growing faster than the number of jobs.

There are large differences in unemployment rates across Canada from 4.5% in Yukon and Quebec to 16.4% in Nunavut. There are also differences between men and women and different age groups with Canadians between 15 and 24 years of age more likely to be unemployed than those aged over 25.

Since the unemployment rates and employment figures are always fluctuating, Statistics Canada publishes the latest figures every month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canada had an unemployment rate of 5.5% in August 2023. While this was higher than in some other major economies in the world, it was lower than in others. Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom all had lower unemployment rates than Canada at 2.7%, 3.8% and 4.3%, respectively. Canada’s unemployment rate was lower than, for example, Germany at 5.6%, France at 7.4%, and Italy at 7.6%.

The lowest unemployment rates in Canada are found in Yukon and Quebec where it was 4.6% in August 2023. The highest unemployment rate is in Nunavut where it is 16.4%. Other provinces with low unemployment rates are Manitoba, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, with unemployment rates of 4.9%, 5.4%, and 5.1%, respectively.

One of the main reasons why the unemployment figures in Canada grew during the summer 2023, is that population growth outpaced the rate new jobs were created.

Sources