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Canada's temp employment increasing at faster rate than traditional jobs

May 14, 2019

Although temporary employees represent a relatively small portion of overall employees, they have been increasing at a faster pace than traditional employees during the past 20 years, according to research released today by Statistics Canada. Data from the Labour Force Survey found 13.3% of employees, or 2.1 million workers, held a temporary job last year, up from 11.8% in 1998.

A temporary job was defined as a job with a predetermined end date, or one that would end as soon as a specified project is completed.

Most of the growth among temporary employees in the past 20 years can be attributed to increases in the number of people with a term or contract job, according to Statistics Canada. The proportion of term or contract employees increased to 53% from 46% of all temporary employees. At the same time, the proportions of temporary employees in 2018 working in casual, seasonal and other temporary jobs all decreased from 1998.

The report found temporary employees last year earned C$21.80 per hour, less than the C$27.71 rate earned by traditional employees. They also worked fewer hours on average per week at 27.8 hours compared with 33.3 hours for traditional employees, leading to lower average weekly earnings for these employees. At the same time, about four out of 10 temporary employees worked part time, compared with 14% of traditional employees.

Temporary employment was higher in the Atlantic provinces in 2018, where seasonal work was relatively more common. The share of temporary employment was largest in Newfoundland and Labrador at 26% and Prince Edward Island at 21%; these provinces also had the highest unemployment rates in 2018 at 13.8% and 9.4% respectively. However, when compared with 1998, the proportion of temporary employees decreased across the Atlantic provinces, most notably in Prince Edward Island, down by 6.2 percentage points.

On the flip side, the lowest proportions of temporary employment in 2018 were found in Manitoba at 12%, followed by Saskatchewan and Ontario at 13% each — all provinces with lower unemployment rates than other provinces.

The Canadian staffing market shows much potential for growth in both the near and long term, according to an article in Staffing Industry Review magazine in which Timothy Landhuis, director of research for North America at Staffing Industry Analysts, discusses some of the key similarities and differences between the US and Canadian staffing markets.

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