By the Numbers: Who works part-time and why?

Toronto – November 17, 2018 – A new study by Statistics Canada examines Canada’s part-time workforce and the reasons that drive millions of workers in Canada toward part-time work. While a stereotype is that much of the part-time workforce is comprised of young workers, the data tells a different story.

3.5 million

In 2017, nearly one in five Canadian workers, or 3.5 million people, worked part-time (less than 30 hours per week) in their main or only job.


People in the core working group (defined as 25-54 years old) comprised the largest share of the part-time workforce, with nearly half of all part-time workers in Canada belonging to this group.


Women are twice as likely as men to work part-time (26% vs 13%).


The most common reason given for part-time work was “going to school," cited by 29% of all part-timers, followed by “personal preference” (28%). Nearly three-quarters of young part-time workers said they were working part-time due to educational commitments.


One-third of core-aged (25-54) part-time workers cited economic reasons as the reason why they are employed part-time. The share was higher among core-aged men (45%) than women (30%). “Economic reasons” is defined in the study as a worker who cannot find, or believes they would not be able to find, full-time work due to economic conditions.


More than one quarter of all women who work part-time in Canada say the prohibitive cost of full-time child care is their main reason for working part-time. Nearly half of (45%) of all women who work part-time between the ages of 35-39 cite the cost of full-time child care as the main reason for not pursuing full-time work.


Core-aged part-timers in Quebec were about half as likely as the national average to cite the cost of child care as the primary reason for choosing to work part-time (11% vs. 21% nationally). This can likely be attributed to the relatively low cost of child care in Quebec compared to the rest of Canada, primarily because of Quebec’s subsidized provincial child care program.

1 in 10

More than one in ten core-aged part-timers (14%) held more than one job, compared with 5% of those working full-time. Economic reasons were cited as the primary driver for working multiple part-time jobs.

Source:Who works part time and why?Statistics Canada, 2018.