Demand for labour remained strong in the Quebec City metropolitan region in 2016. Unemployment dipped to 4.6%, the lowest rate in Canada. Full‑time employment was on the upswing once again (+1,800 jobs). In addition, the proportion of workers in the 25‑to‑54 year‑old age group grew (+3,900 jobs), leading to an unemployment rate of 3.9% and an employment rate of 88.6% in that category—the lowest such levels in Canada. However, our expectations concerning total job creation in 2016 were modest. There was actually a net loss of 3,800 jobs compared with 2015, admittedly an exceptional year. In line with our own predictions, most analysts anticipated this drop‑off. The shortage of qualified workers was the main cause as the region saw its labour force decline by 1% compared with 2015 (‑4,700 workers). Furthermore, the number of active jobseekers decreased from 21,900 in 2015 to 21,000 in 2016.
In 2016, the services sector turned in a strong performance, creating 2,600 jobs thanks to strong demand in the areas of business services and public administration, as well as in the commercial and recreation/tourism sectors. The total number of manufacturing jobs dropped by 2,900 in relation to the excellent showing in 2015. This sector has more or less returned to its equilibrium point and has adjusted to the international market's new realities. Adjustments were also seen in the slumping construction industry, with a loss of 3,600 jobs (residential and non‑residential sectors).
Economic diversification in the Quebec City region will continue to be a key job creation factor in 2017. The services sector will continue to expand and the manufacturing sector should remain stable as a number of major non‑residential projects are launched. Still, among major regional issues, the availability of potential workers will have a big impact on employment gains in the coming year.