2020 In Review: Oil And Gas Employment And Labour Force Data

PetroLMI has released December 2020 and Annual 2020 data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), providing a glimpse into the state of the Canadian oil and gas industry labour market at year-end. Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, PetroLMI gathers and analyzes data specifically within the following industry sub-sectors: exploration and production (including oil sands), oil and gas services and pipelines.

Canada’s oil and gas industry labour force (i.e., those working and actively looking for work) contracted by 10,800 or 5.5% in 2020. Employment averaged 167,100, down 11% (-20,500) from 187,600 the previous year.

Latter half of 2020 saw steady employment recovery

In June 2020, employment in Canada’s oil and gas industry hit a low of 156,000, a sharp decline of 21,300 jobs (-12%) since March. Over the second half of the year, however, employment recovered steadily, approaching pre-pandemic levels (175,000) by December.

Labour force characteristics for Canada’s oil and gas industry, monthly
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey and PetroLMI, unadjusted 3-month moving averages

The unemployment rate more than doubled in 2020

In 2020 there was an average of 19,700 unemployed oil and gas workers in Canada, nearly double the 2019 average (10,000). Unemployment hit a high of 30,000 in June 2020, easing to 16,200 by year-end. The industry’s unemployment rate peaked at over 16% in June, while the average for the year was 10.5%, more than double the average of 5.1% in 2019. Heading into 2021, the unemployment rate remained elevated at 8.5% in December.

Tough year for the oil and gas services sub-sector

Average annual employment was down in all three sub-sectors, however, nearly three-quarters of the annual job losses were in oil and gas services. This sub-sector suffered a loss of 15,100 jobs (-19%) in 2020, while employment declined by 2,400 (-16%) in the pipelines sub-sector and by 3,000 (-3.2%) in the exploration and production sub-sector.

Majority of job losses were in Alberta

Annual employment levels were down in all regions across the country, however most of the job losses occurred in Alberta. Employment in Alberta, which accounted for 80% of oil and gas industry employment in 2020, declined from an average of 140,400 in 2019 to 128,600 in 2020 — a loss of 11,800 jobs (-8.4%).

Job losses were mostly among men

Annual employment fell for both men and women, however, most of the job losses were among men. Employment for men, which made up 77% of industry employment in 2020, decreased by an average of 17,600 (-12%), while employment for women was down by 2,800 (-7%).

Challenging year for older adults

With the exception of workers aged 35 to 44, average annual employment declined in all age categories. The bulk of the job losses — over three-quarters — occurred among older adults, with employment down by 9,600 (-30%) for those aged 55 and older and 6,300 (-15%) for those aged 45 to 54. Employment increased slightly for those aged 35 to 44 (+500).

For more information and to review monthly LFS data specific to the oil and gas industry, visit PetroLMI’s Employment and Labour Force Data Dashboard.


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