March Labour Lowdown

30 April 2024

Toronto’s Labour Market One of Few Bright Spots   

Across Canada, labour market conditions largely held with the employment numbers holding steady along with unemployment rates.  Unfortunately, the Toronto labour market did not fare as well as the rest of Canada. The unemployment rate in Toronto increased 1.7 percentage points to reach 7.5% in March.  Toronto’s employment rate of 59.5% and participation rate of 65.6% remained virtually unchanged from February 2024.

Other highlights from March’s Labour Force Survey include:

  • From March 2023 to March 2024, the unemployment rate rose 3.9 percentage points to 10.8% among core-aged Black Canadians, with increases among both core-aged Black men (+5.5 percentage points to 10.6%) and women (+2.4 percentage points to 11.1%). Over the same period, the unemployment rate increased by 1.8 percentage points to 6.7% for core-aged South Asian Canadians and 1.1 percentage points to 7.2% for core-aged Chinese Canadians.
  • In March, the youth unemployment rate rose 1.0 percentage points in the month to 12.6% and was up 3.1 percentage points from a recent low of 9.5% observed in March 2023.
  • Employment in Canada fell in three industries, led by accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade and information, culture and recreation. Employment in health care and social assistance increased substantially (+40,000).
  • While employment rose across most of Ontario, employment declines were seen in the Niagara Region, Windsor, and Toronto


Median wages across Toronto declined for the third successive month after impressive gains during the last quarter of 2023.  Mean hourly wages fell from $37.66 (February 2024) to $37.12 (March 2024). 

In more positive news, Job posting data for March continued to show upward trends which indicate that employers are still looking for additional workers and is a good portent for an increase in Toronto’s employment rate in the coming months.   

The increase in job postings was primarily driven by substantial job posting increases in the Science and Technical Sector and Health Care Sector.  After several months of decline – retail postings rebounded as did those in Hospitality and Business Services.  Some of the job posting gains were offset by declines in the Finance Sector.     

Employment Among Seniors

A recent Statistics Canada study (April 2024) found that of all Canadian-born and immigrant seniors aged 65 to 74, 21% were employed in 2022. Nine percent reported working by necessity and 12% reported working by choice. Those working by necessity represented 351,000 individuals that year.  Immigrant seniors were more likely than their Canadian-born counterparts to work by necessity in 2022. Of all immigrant men aged 65 to 74, 15% reported working by necessity in 2022 (Table 1). The corresponding percentage was 9% for Canadian-born men. Immigrant women (9%) were also more likely than Canadian-born women (6%) to report working by necessity.

These finding echo the findings of an upcoming TWIG release on Older Job-Seekers which will be released in early May. 

Update on Childcare

As a follow up to our recent Childcare Paper, Statistics Canada found that in 2023, 62% of children with long-term conditions or disabilities were in childcare. The most common impacts of difficulty in finding a childcare arrangement on parents were:

  • Changing their work schedule: 40%
  • Working fewer hours: 36%
  • Paying more than they wanted to: 33%
  • Postponing their return to work: 33%

Spotlight on Construction and Housing

Over the past year, the lack of housing across Canada has become a serious policy issue.  This is particularly true in Toronto.  Statistics released by Urbanation last week provide little solace. In The Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) new condominium market reported 1,461 sales in Q1-2024, the lowest quarterly total since the Global Financial Crisis in Q1-2009 (884 sales). Indeed, the authors of the report found that new condominium sales haven’t been this low since the late-1990s.  Developers dramatically pulled back on new launches in early 2024, with only four projects totaling 958 units brought to market in the first quarter. Three out of the four projects launched in the GTHA during Q1 were in the 905 Region, resulting in an average opening price for new condos of $1,168 per square foot — down 12% from Q4-2023 ($1,333 per square foot) and a 17% drop from the record high in Q1-2023 ($1,407).  As of Q1-2024, the City of Toronto had unsold new condo inventory equal to 30.6 months of supply.

Meanwhile, new statistics from CBRE, a commercial real estate company, indicates that 18 per cent of office space in Toronto’s downtown core was vacant during the first quarter of the year, part of a continuing trend of gradually increasing vacant rates over the past few years.  Pre-pandemic, that number was closer to two per cent.

After years of shortages of construction workers in both Ontario and the Toronto area, are storm clouds on the horizon for the sector and its workers?  As seen in Labour Force Survey data, the sector has lost approximately 22,000 jobs since its peak of 262,000 in September of 2023.

Some sector analysts are suggesting the employment declines in construction are due to labour shortages and unfilled jobs.  However, indicators from Job Posting data suggests that there is some contraction in the sector.

A more detailed examination of job posting data does indicate that a number of occupations are still in high demand.  This includes:

  1. Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers
  2. Carpenters
  3. Construction Managers         
  4. Plumbers        
  5. Roofers and Shinglers

The education, skill requirements and experience of workers the construction sector is looking for has remained consistent over the past twelve months.

As policy makers and stakeholders consider ways to allieviate the housing shortages (including modular or prefab housing), data around labour supply and the types of jobs generated by new forms of housing will be of interest.  Later this year, TWIG will be publishing a detailed analysis of the workforce required for “residential construction”.     

For more information on this report please see our Jobs TO Data or email us at


  • TWIG

    Toronto Workforce Innovation Group is a non-profit and independent research organization devoted to finding and promoting solutions to employment-related problems in the Toronto Region.

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March Labour Lowdown
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