January 14, 2017 11:15 am
Updated: January 14, 2017 5:47 pm

Canada’s best cities for full-time jobs

Saskatchewan saw a slight dip in its unemployment rate last month, but we're still feeling the effects of the economic downturn. David Baxter has more on what the latest job numbers mean for job seekers and how our economy is faring.


Regina, Sask.

It’s not a city many would likely expect to top economic rankings of any kind at a time of low oil prices. It is, after all, the capital of a resource-dependent province whose economy has suffered as prices dropped in recent years.

Indeed, the province’s unemployment rate went up last year.

But data released by Statistics Canada last week brought comparatively good news for the capital — it had the highest full-time employment rate of any major metropolitan area across Canada in December 2016.

READ MORE: Canada created lots of jobs last year. Almost all were part-time: TD

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Regina registered a 57.2 per cent full-time employment rate last month; it was followed by Guelph, Ont., with 55.9 per cent, and Ontario’s Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo area, with 55.3 per cent.

The rates, which are available in this StatsCan table, are not seasonally adjusted and were determined by dividing each city’s full-time employment by its population.

But it nevertheless gives people an indication of where Canadians are holding on to full-time work, even as it shrinks as a proportion of total employment.

“Even with relatively difficult economic times, the underlying structure of the economy is important.”

TD senior economist James Marple, who last week released a report showing that almost every job created in Canada last year was part-time, didn’t explain precisely why Regina ended up on top of the list, in an email to Global News.

He did, however, say that cities’ employment numbers don’t always sway with fluctuations in the economy.

“Even with relatively difficult economic times, the underlying structure of the economy is important,” he said.

It may be that Regina, and other cities high up on the list, “have had a higher ratio of full-time jobs for a relatively long time,” Marple added.


Regina’s full-time employment rate in December has fluctuated over the past 15 years, hitting a low of 52.8 per cent in 2005 and a high of 60.5 per cent in 2011.

It forms a marked contrast with full-time employment in Calgary, which has a more obvious correlation with economic circumstances.

The city’s full-time employment rate fell from just under 62 per cent in December 2007 to 52.2 per cent in December 2008, the year that the financial crisis hit.

The graph below illustrates the contrast between Regina and Calgary’s employment rates.

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Full-time work as a share of total employment has been falling steadily since the 1980s, said Marple’s report, which he co-authored with TD chief economist Beata Caranci.

There are numerous reasons why this is happening. One is that the service industry has come to occupy a larger share of employment.

And it’s a sector that is known to generate a “greater share of part-time positions,” TD noted.

This chart from TD Economics shows that the share of full-time employment has been declining since the 1980s, and it accelerated with the 2009 recession.

TD Economics

In other words, it’s a tough market for full-time work out there, and it’s growing tougher.

And some Canadian cities are clearly riding out the trend better than others.

Here are the best Canadian cities for full-time jobs:

1) Regina, Sask. — 57.2 per cent

Dec. 2: Chris Hartman took this Your Saskatchewan photo in Regina.

Chris Hartman / Viewer Submitted

Population (Dec. 2016): 202,700

Full-time employment: 116,100

Full-time employment rate: 57.2 per cent

2) Guelph, Ont. — 55.9 per cent

Downtown Guelph.

Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user David J. Sullivan

Population (Dec. 2016): 131,200

Full-time employment: 73,400

Full-time employment rate: 55.9 per cent

3) Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. — 55.3 per cent

Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ont.

Lupin/Wikimedia Commons

Population (Dec. 2016): 428,200

Full-time employment: 236,900

Full-time employment rate: 55.3 per cent

4) Edmonton, Alta. — 54.2 per cent

The setting sun blazes behind the skyline in Edmonton, Alta. on Friday May 20, 2011.

Global News

Population (Dec. 2016): 1,127,400

Full-time employment: 610,700

Full-time employment rate: 54.2 per cent

5) Calgary, Alta. — 53.8 per cent

The Calgary skyline.

Dani Lantela / Global News

Population (Dec. 2016): 1,210,300

Full-time employment: 650,800

Full-time employment rate: 53.8 per cent

6) Oshawa, Ont. — 53.6 per cent

Downtown Oshawa.

P199/Wikimedia Commons

Population (Dec. 2016): 329,200

Full-time employment: 176,400

Full-time employment rate: 53.6 per cent

7) Quebec City, Que. — 53.1 per cent

The Chateau Frontenac in old historic Quebec City on Monday, December 23, 2013.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Population (Dec. 2016): 677,500

Full-time employment: 360,300

Full-time employment rate: 53.1 per cent

8) Saint John, N.B. — 52.9 per cent

Reversing Falls in Saint John, N.B.

Wikimedia Commons

Population (Dec. 2016): 105,400

Full-time employment: 55,800

Full-time employment rate: 52.9 per cent

9) Ottawa-Gatineau, Ont./Que. — 50.9 per cent

Joggers make their way through Majors Hill Park in downtown Ottawa in view of Parliament Hill on Wednesday, March 17, 2010.


Population (Dec. 2016): 1,116,300

Full-time employment: 568,600

Full-time employment rate: 50.9 per cent

10) Toronto, Ont. — 50.3 per cent

The CN Tower, right, stands next to buildings under construction in the skyline of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

Population (Dec. 2016): 5,231,800

Full-time employment: 2,631,600

Full-time employment rate: 50.3 per cent

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