Sept 12, 2023: Record Highs for Employment and Labour Force; Permit Value Declines Modestly

September 12, 2023

Summary: Employment and Labour Force reached record highs in August, at 624.6 thousand and 649.9 thousand respectively, while the unemployment rate increased to 3.9%. Permit values declined modestly but were still up about 28% on an annual basis.

From July to August, employment increased from 617.7 thousand to a record high 624.6 thousand. This surpassed the previous record of 620.6 thousand from July 2022. The labour force increased from 641.7 thousand in July to 649.9 thousand in August, also breaking the previous record of 641.9 thousand from May.

The unemployment rate increased from 3.7% to 3.9%. This is a relatively low unemployment rate, though a full percentage point higher compared to August 2022 and somewhat higher compared to pre-pandemic levels (3.5% in August 2019). The overall Ontario unemployment rate increased from 6.3% to 6.9%. This is similar to the pre-pandemic unemployment rate (6.4% in August 2019, 6.6% in August 2018). Higher unemployment rates mean that the labour market is cooling, which is a welcome development for the Bank of Canada’s effort to curb inflation, as it could mean less intense wage pressures. Statistics Canada’s Q1 2023 estimates also show that the number of job vacancies and job vacancy rate for building construction are at their lowest in 7 quarters.

Monthly Changes
From June to July, total ICI permit value decreased by 18.1% ($2.01 billion – $1.65 billion). Commercial permit value declined by close to 31% ($985 – $682.1 million); this was also down by 20% annually.  Industrial permit value decreased by about 21% ($667.8 – $527.2 million). Only institutional permit value was up in July, with a 22.3% increase from June ($359.7 – $439.9 million), and a massive 153% increase year-over-year (July 2022 had a particularly low value of $173.7 million). However, overall ICI permit value was still up 27.6% annually.

Overall year-to-date ICI permit value was up 23.5% compared to the same time last year. The largest percentage increase was in the institutional sector at 39%.



Ali Ahmad
Research Analyst

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222