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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

August 07, 2020

Starting with July 2020, Statistics Canada has added a question to the Labour Force Survey respondents about whether they identify with visible minority populations.  The population group categories of response are the same as those found in the 2016 Census: White, South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan), Chinese, Black, Filipino, Arab, Latin American, Southeast Asian (e.g., Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai), West Asian (e.g., Iranian, Afghan), Korean, Other.

Labour force characteristics for Aboriginal populations are reported separately in the labour force survey.

The first results for labour force characteristics of visible minority populations are available for July 2020.  While Statistics Canada has prepared estimates for reference months prior to July to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on visible minority populations, this analysis will focus on conditions reported by respondents for July 2020. Unless otherwise indicated, data refer to populations aged 15-69.

The results for July 2020 show that respondents who identify with a visible minority population have higher unemployment rates (16.2 per cent) than those who do not identify as Aboriginal or a visible minority (9.3 per cent).  The gap in unemployment rates is notably larger in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.  The gap is narrower in Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan (though this data is of limited quality).  


For the country as a whole, participation rates in the labour force are similar for visible minority populations as for those who do not identify as Aboriginal or visible minority.  However, there is a notably higher participation rate for visible minorities in Manitoba.

With similar participation rates and higher unemployment rates, there is a gap between employment rates of visible minorities (62.9 per cent) and those who do not identify as aboriginal or a visible minority (68.3 per cent).  The largest gaps are observed in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.  The gaps are smaller in Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Unemployment rates were higher across all visible minority categories than for those who did not identify as Aboriginal or in a visible minority population.  There were higher unemployment rates for women in South Asian, Black and Arab populations.  (Some of these results have limited data quality and should be used with caution).

Labour force participation rates are higher among men than women across all population groups.  The difference somewhat wider among some visible minority populations.

With gaps in both participation and unemployment rates, women in many visible minority populations have notably lower employment rates than men.  The Filipino population is the exception.  Women who are not in Aboriginal or visible minority populations also have lower employment rates.  

Unemployment rates are higher for all age cohorts of visible minority populations, but the gap is particularly large for youth.

Participation rates of visible minority populations are lower for youth and higher for older workers, compared to the same age cohorts that do not identify as Aboriginal or visible minority populations.

With lower participation and higher unemployment rates, the gap in employment rates for visible minority youth populations is particularly wide.  With stronger participation rates (and despite higher unemployment rates), the employment rate of older visible minority populations is higher than among older Canadians who do not identify as Aboriginal or a visible minority.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, July 2020.

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