Choose your settings
Choose your language
Quebec and Ontario Economic News

Quebec's Labour Market Holds Up While Ontario's Softens Significantly

June 9, 2023
Hélène Bégin
Principal Economist


  • Quebec added a modest 1,600 jobs in May following a gain of 10,500 in April and losses in the 2 months before that. Employment is well off its early 2023 peak.
  • Quebec's unemployment rate fell from 4.1% in April to 4.0% in May, just above its record low of 3.9%.
  • Ontario shed 23,900 jobs in May, ending a streak of strong gains that began last fall. 
  • Ontario's unemployment rate jumped from 4.9% in April to 5.5% in May. The employment rate fell from 62.3% to 61.9%. 
  • Average hourly wages were up sharply again year-over-year, rising 5.4% in Quebec and 5.1% in Ontario. 


Quebec's labour market was expected to hold up pretty well in May, and that was borne out by today's report. But while a modest increase in employment and a jobless rate hovering around 4.0% are all well and good, Quebec's economy has lost steam since the start of the year. That said, the labour market remains extremely tight, and wage growth remains strong.

In Ontario, the string of impressive job gains we've seen in recent months ended with a significant decline in May. The unemployment rate spiked from 4.9% in April to 5.5%. This may seem shocking, but Ontario's population and workforce are growing quickly. So whenever job vacancies decline, the unemployment rate fluctuates sharply. 



In a reversal from recent months, Quebec's labour market had a much better May than Ontario's did. What does that tell us? Quebec's sluggish job gains since the start of the year reflect an economy that has already slowed. Meanwhile Ontario could return to spectacular job gains, possibly even in June. In short, it's too soon to say whether the labour market has rolled over. But we do expect the economy to continue to grow, and the engines are still running.