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Labour underutilization




Employment and job quality


Labour underutilization


Unemployed persons, discouraged searchers, and underemployed (short-time and involuntary part-time) persons as a percentage of the potential labour force.


This indicator is measured in the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

There are multiple different ways of defining labour underutilization.

For the purpose of the Quality of Life Framework indicator, the following comprise the component definitions of labour underutilization:

  • Unemployed: persons who, during reference week, were without work, were available for work and were either on temporary layoff, had looked for work in the past four weeks or had a job to start within the next four weeks.
  • Discouraged searchers (not in labour force, for reason "discouraged searcher"): persons who reported wanting to work at a job or business during the reference week and were available, but who did not look for work because they believed no suitable work was available.
  • Underemployed - Short-time worker (employed but lost hours due to "short-time / business conditions"): persons working short-time when short days or short weeks are adopted by employers because it is undesirable to maintain the business at its usual operating level. The reason for working short time may include slow business, shortage of material or energy, or plant maintenance and repairs.
  • Underemployed - Involuntary part-time worker: also referred to as underemployed, these respondents work part-time because they could not find work with 30 or more hours or due to business conditions, whether or not they looked for full-time work. This group generally represents one-quarter to one-third of the total number of part-time workers, depending on current economic conditions. This is the most widely used and inclusive definition of involuntary part-time workers.
  • Potential labour force: Includes people in the labour force (all employed and unemployed people) and discouraged searchers.

For more information on the measurement of these concepts in the LFS, please refer to Guide to the Labour Force Survey.

Data sources

Additional information

For more information on the labour underutilization rate specific to COVID-19 please consult the following releases by the Labour Force Survey:


This indicator aligns with the following frameworks:

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