About the Labour Force Survey

The monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) captures data about the labour market and provides estimates of employment and unemployment which are the most timely and important measures of performance of the Canadian economy.

In addition to unemployment rate, LFS data are used to produce other standard labour market indicators and employment estimates.  It is one of five surveys used to describe labour market .

Note:  The LFS is a sample survey and estimates are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors.

Who is Included in the Labour Force?

The labour force is the number of individuals who are currently working plus those who are unemployed. The unemployed includes individuals who during the reference week, were available for work and were either on temporary layoff, had looked for work in the past four weeks or had a job to start in the next four weeks.

Labour Force Survey Variability and Other Myths

There has been some dialogue about variability of Labour Force Survey estimates from month-to-month, among other myths.

Labour Force Survey Revisions

A standard revision has been applied to Labour Force Survey estimates.

Beginning with the February 2015 release, historical comparisons of estimates produced by the LFS must be made with revised historical data.

Revised estimates released by Statistics Canada on CANSIM include:

  • LFS data adjusted to reflect the estimates from the 2011 Census of Population and revised back to 2001. LFS data were previously based on estimates from the 2006 Census.
  • Geographic boundaries updated to the 2011 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) from the 2006 SGC. This update slightly modifies the boundaries of some Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) and Economic Regions (ERs).
  • An update to the variables used to create imputation groups to reflect both current response patterns and relationships between key variables. This update has been implemented historically back to January 2008.
  • New CANSIM tables for all sub-provincial areas based on the 2011 Census boundaries and data series available for 2001 onwards. Concordance tables for the CANSIM vectors are also available.

In January 2016, the North American Industry Classification (NAICS) 2012 replaced the NAICS 2007. The industry classification change did not affect the LFS CANSIM tables as there were only minor changes at the four-digit level.

In February 2017, occupation data estimates were reclassified to the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) from the 2011 National Occupational Classification. Previously in January 2016, the occupation data estimates were updated to the 2011 National Occupational Classification from the 2006 National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S). New CANSIM tables were created in January 2016 for all occupation-related series in order to move from NOC-S 2006 to NOC 2011, but no changes were required for the move to NOC 2016.

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