The participation rate measures the percentage of people of working age that are part of the labour force (either working or looking for work).
Why This Matters
The participation rate is an important measure of our economic wellbeing because it shows the size of the labour force relative to the size of the working age population. In other words, because the size of the labour pool can limit potential economic productivity, it indicates economic potential (or lack thereof). In comparison, the unemployment rate only captures people looking for work, meaning that potential employees that are dropping out of the labour force because of a lack of employment opportunities or other reasons, do not get counted.
Measurement and Limitations
Statistics Canada (2011) reports, the participation rate as the total labour force, which they define as being comprised of the sum total of the number of people that are employed and unemployed, relative to the size of the working-age population. In other words, it is the share of the working-age population that is working or looking for work (Statistics Canada 2008).
Statistics Canada. CANSIM table 282-0135. Retrieved from: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=2820135&paSer=&pattern=&stByVal=1&p1=1&p2=37&tabMode=dataTable&csid=
This data is updated annually, as the data becomes available.
Statistics Canada (2008). Participation rates. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-222-x/2008001/sectiona/a-participation-activite-eng.htm
Statistics Canada. (2011). Guide to the Labour Force Survey: Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-543-g/71-543-g2011001-eng.pdf
Participation Rate Sustainable Development Goals
8. Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about US$2 a day. And in too many places, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty.
A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. . The creation of quality jobs will remain a major challenge for almost all economies well beyond 2015.
Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working age population.
Related Participation Rate Targets
By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value