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Economic News

Quebec's employment continued to stall in February

March 8, 2024
Florence Jean-Jacobs
Principal Economist


  • In Quebec, employment edged up in February (+8,800), erasing the previous month's losses.
  • The number of unemployed workers went up as well, (+12,200) bringing the jobless rate to 4.7%, compared with 4.5% in January and 4.1% in February 2023.
  • The annual increase in Quebec's working-age population (15 and up) reached a new peak (2.0%), once again outstripping employment growth.
  • The labour force rose by 21,000, offsetting a similar drop the month before.
  • The employment rate remained stable at 61.6%, with the increase in men (+0.4 points to 64.9%) cancelling out the decrease in women (-0.3 points to 58.4%).
  • Average hourly wage growth remained stable at 3.3%.


Surprisingly, the accommodation and food services sector recorded the biggest job gains, followed by the professional services and health care sectors (see table). But sizable losses were posted by the manufacturing sector, as well as by wholesale and retail.

All the same, it's encouraging to see that private sector employment rose (+8,000) after falling during four of the last six months. 


Quebec's job market remains flat. The fourth quarter saw no job gains, and cumulative gains for the first two months of the year were close to zero. Hours worked remained stable in January and February, compared with the same period in 2023. There have been more unemployed workers than vacant positions since June 2023—the most recent figures showed an 86,000 difference in December 2023.

For now, the economic slowdown has had relatively mild effects on the labour market, with job vacancies absorbing most of the shock. However, we do expect Quebec's unemployment rate to increase slightly over the course of the year (see our latest forecasts External link.).

Its trajectory will be affected by a number of factors, including potential layoffs by struggling businesses, which are numerous, if the steep rise in insolvencies is any indication (graph).

NOTE TO READERS: The letters k, M and B are used in texts, graphs and tables to refer to thousands, millions and billions respectively. IMPORTANT: This document is based on public information and may under no circumstances be used or construed as a commitment by Desjardins Group. While the information provided has been determined on the basis of data obtained from sources that are deemed to be reliable, Desjardins Group in no way warrants that the information is accurate or complete. The document is provided solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation for purchase or sale. Desjardins Group takes no responsibility for the consequences of any decision whatsoever made on the basis of the data contained herein and does not hereby undertake to provide any advice, notably in the area of investment services. Data on prices and margins is provided for information purposes and may be modified at any time based on such factors as market conditions. The past performances and projections expressed herein are no guarantee of future performance. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions and forecasts contained herein are those of the document’s authors and do not represent the opinions of any other person or the official position of Desjardins Group.