Employment growth continues; unemployment rate falls in March


According to Statistics Canada, the economy added 303,000 jobs in March. Employment gains were spread across most provinces, with the largest increases in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Much of the employment increase reflected continued recovery in industries hardest hit by public health restrictions such as retail, accommodation and food services.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 per cent, down from 8.2 per cent in February, bringing the rate to a pandemic-era low.


  • Employment rose 303,000 (+1.6%) in March, and was within 1.5% of its pre-COVID February 2020 level.
  • The unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 7.5%, the lowest level since February 2020.
  • Both full- (+175,000; +1.2%) and part-time (+128,000; +3.9%) employment increased.
  • Self-employment rose for the first time in three months, up 56,000 (+2.1%), but remained 5.4% (-156,000) below its pre-COVID February 2020 level.
  • Total hours worked rose 2.0% in March, driven by gains in several industries, including educational services, retail trade and construction.
  • There were 1.5 million Canadians unemployed, up 371,000 (+32.4%) compared with February 2020.
  • Compared with February 2020, there were 296,000 (-1.5%) fewer people employed in March 2021, and 247,000 (+30.4%) more people worked less than half of their usual hours.
  • The labour underutilization rate fell 1.9 percentage points to 14.7%, the lowest level since February 2020.

Employment up in industries most affected by easing of public health restrictions

  • Employment in retail trade rose by 95,000 (+4.5%) in March, fully recouping the remainder of the losses sustained in January.
  • Employment in information, culture and recreation increased (+62,000; +9.4%) for the first time since September.
  • There were 21,000 (+2.4%) more people working in accommodation and food services.
  • Following little change in February, employment in the goods-producing sector rose 43,000 (+1.1%) in March, with construction contributing most of the gain (+26,000; +1.8%).

Employment increases in most provinces

  • Employment increased in seven provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.
  • Employment was unchanged in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Young women continue to face challenges despite growth in youth employment

  • Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 rose by 115,000 (+5.0%) in March, with gains entirely in part-time work.
  • Compared with February 2020, employment was down 122,000 (-9.5%) among young women, compared with 39,000 (-3.0%) among young men.
  • Building on an increase of 134,000 (+1.1%) in February, employment among people aged 25 to 54 rose a further 87,000 (+0.7%) in March.
  • Employment among people aged 55 and older rose by 101,000 (+2.5%) but their employment rate was 0.8 percentage points lower than in February 2020.

For more information on this report, visit Statistics Canada.