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Unemployment in Québec City drops to 4.2% in May

The Québec City CMA grappled with a major contraction of the available workforce in early 2016. This trend continued in May. For the seventh month in a row, the active working population shrank (-0.8% from April). Since December, some 23,500 people have left the workforce. This situation has a direct consequence on the number of jobs. In May, the region had a total of 425,800 jobs, down 2,100 from April. In addition, the number of unemployed individuals continued to decrease last month, dropping below 19,000 as unemployment fell to 4.2%. In May, the region had 4,000 fewer unemployed than in December.


  • The Québec City census metropolitan area (CMA) recorded an unemployment rate of 4.2% in May, down from 4.5% in April. This was the lowest rate in the province of Québec and the lowest among the Top 8 Canadian CMAs.
  • Once again, the drop in the total workforce (-0.8%) was greater than the total number of jobs available (-0.5%), resulting in a lower unemployment rate.
  • The shrinking labour pool once again meant a loss in the total number of jobs in Québec City in May. The region had 425,800 jobs, or 2,100 less than in April.
  • For the province of Québec, 21,600 jobs were added on a monthly basis in May. The unemployment rate dropped from 7.5% in April to 7.1% in May.


The job market had been at full throttle in the Québec City CMA in recent years as it hit new heights. Everyone expected the pendulum to swing the other way to absorb these major gains. However, things took an entirely different turn this time around. Companies are not slowing the pace of their hiring in 2016: they continue to post job offers in order to support their operations, boost their growth and replace departing employees, particularly retirees. In fact, the pool of available prospects is shrinking. For the first time in 15 years, unemployment dipped below the 5% mark for all age groups. In May, unemployment among 15-to-24 year-olds, 25-to-54 year-olds and 55+ year-olds stood at 4.4%, 4.2% and 4.9% in May (seasonally adjusted).

The shrinking workforce has direct consequences on the pool of potential candidates entering the market. For that reason, Québec International is stepping up efforts to support companies looking for recruits, particularly specialized workers. In late May, Québec International joined 10 local companies as part of a recruitment initiative in Paris.

Louis Gagnon
Senior Economist
Québec International