Labour Report: Diverse workforce, disparate challenges

The last few months of Statistics Canada’s monthly labour report have highlighted a consistent employment landscape, but it has also unveiled much room for improvement when it comes to ensuring equity across the country.

In September, the labour market added 64,000 jobs, building upon the prior month’s gain of 40,000 in August. To maintain a stable employment rate, a monthly addition of 50,000 jobs to the workforce is required. This growth trajectory aligns with the necessary pace to keep employment in sync with Canada’s population growth through a robust immigration policy.

Diverse workforce growth

Canada’s workforce is becoming increasingly diverse, with racialized groups accounting for 29.9% of the labour force, up 1.4% from last year. But numbers are more than just figures on a page — they represent the experience, struggles, and aspirations of individuals and communities. By delving into the impact of employment rates and employment trends, we gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and opportunities that lie within Canada’s diverse workforce.

While there is more diversity represented in Canada’s ready-to-work population, Statistics Canada also revealed unemployment increases for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, as well as Asian and Black Canadians.

Diverse disparities

As the labour market has evolved over the past year, the unemployment rates for many racialized groups have seen significant changes. While the overall unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5% for the third consecutive month, for core-aged Canadians (aged 25-54) the rate increased by 0.4 percentage points to 4.9%, while if we dig deeper the number reveals certain communities have faced larger challenges.

For instance, the unemployment rate for core-aged South Asian Canadians rose to 6.4% in September – a 1.4 percentage point increase from the previous year. Similarly, core-aged Chinese Canadians saw an increase to 5.4%, while this is relatively unchanged from the previous year it is still distinctly higher than the general population’s core-aged unemployment rate.

Worse yet, among core-aged Black Canadians the unemployment rate increased last month to a whopping 7.9%. Unfortunately, this was largely driven by an increase in the unemployment rate of Black women, which rose 2.5 percentage year-over-year to 9.4%.

“These are not just statistics,” says Craig Brown, CEO of Agilus, “this is a reflection of the challenges faced by equity-deserving groups. Behind each of these numbers are individuals and families grappling with the consequences of job loss and economic uncertainty. However, within these challenges there is also immense opportunity. By recognizing the unique talents, perspectives, and experiences that each individual brings to the table, we can harness their potential to drive innovation and foster a stronger, more resilient Canadian labour force.”

Impact on Indigenous communities

For Indigenous communities, the employment rate has often trailed behind the non-Indigenous population. On the heels of National Truth and Reconciliation Day we acknowledge this disparity reflects historical legacies of colonization, educational barriers, labour market inequalities, and systemic inequities that persist.

Over the past year, the employment rate of core-aged Indigenous individuals living off-reserve saw a decline of 2.2 percentage points to 74.4%. In contrast, the employment rate for the non-Indigenous core-aged population remained steady at 84.8%. It’s worth noting that the employment rate for core-aged First Nations women living off-reserve decreased from 68.6% to 66.1% in September, while at the same time the rate increased for men from 73.8% to 76.2% over the past year.

Among Métis men, the employment rate dropped by 4.9 percentage points to 79.9% in the 12 months leading up to September. Métis women, on the other hand, saw little change in comparison, with a 1.2 percentage point dip down to 77.4% compared to 78.6% the previous year.

“These figures underscore the need for targeted initiatives aimed at improving employment prospects for Indigenous communities,” says Jeffrey Bowen, President of our Indigenous-owned recruitment firm, Stream Source. “These numbers highlight the urgency of addressing systemic disparities and ensuring equal opportunities for all Canadians.”

Looking Forward

In the world of statistics, numbers tell a story. Behind each statistic lies a profound tale of challenges, progress, and the ever-evolving landscape of employment in Canada. This is why at Agilus we share Statistics Canada’s labour report every month. By delving into the impact of employment rates and trends, we gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and opportunities that lie within Canada’s diverse workforce.

Let’s work together to create a labour market where everyone, regardless of their background, has an equal opportunity to thrive. With our extensive 46-year track record we have a proven history of assisting employers in finding exceptional candidates and enhancing their hiring strategies. Our team of recruitment and human resource experts across the country is well-equipped to guide your business through the uncertainties of the current economic landscape, help you develop a compelling Employee Value Proposition, and most importantly – connect you with the right people right away. Take the first step and reach out to us today to get started on this journey.


Looking for employment? For more than 46 years, Agilus has served our candidate and employer networks, connecting great job seekers with meaningful employment. We place over 10,000 job seekers in roles every year in Engineering, Technology, Professional/Office, and Light Industrial roles. Check out our open roles on our job boardcreate a job alert or build a profile so our more than 100 recruitment professionals can find you quickly when a role becomes available. Please follow us on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter for job seeking tips, new roles and Agilus.



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