Friday, 25 May, 2018

Canada's volatile jobs survey posts biggest monthly drop since 2009

Jobless rate at 5.9 Jobless rate at 5.9
Glenn Montgomery | 10 February, 2018, 09:45

Canada racked up strong employment gains past year, creating more than 400,000 jobs and setting the fastest pace of growth since 2002.

While the overall decline helped push the national unemployment rate up to 5.9 per cent in January from 5.8 per cent the previous month, it's still well below the 6.7 per cent it sat at a year ago.

Compared to January 2017, unemployment in Nanaimo has fallen from 5.9 per cent. "But the details also looking wonky, with all of the job losses in part-time work".

The number was influenced by a drop of 137,000 part-time positions, the largest single-month slump on record.

The London area jobless rate jumped from 6.2 per cent to 6.5 per cent in January as more people surged back into the job market.

Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers "reflect the concerns we have heard from businesses for months".

"Given that it was concentrated in Ontario I think it's fair to say there's some kind of impact there".

On the flip side, 49,000 full-time positions were generated in January.

Also, because the labour-force survey relies on Canadians to report their income and employment status, it is not as reliable as the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, which uses payroll-tax data and is released about six-to-eight weeks after the end of the month.

The wage improvements in January arrived the same month that saw Ontario take the controversial step of raising its minimum wage.

The monthly employment figures for specific regions of Canada, like Cape Breton, are determined by a three-month moving average of unemployment rates unadjusted for seasonality, while national, provincial and major city numbers reflect monthly numbers which are seasonally adjusted.

The biggest question from Friday's disappointing Canadian employment report is how much can be traced to Ontario's sharp minimum wage increase last month.

Mr. Shenfeld noted that the participation rate in the Statscan survey declined in Ontario, and said: "Hard to argue that higher minimum wages would cause Ontarians to decide not to work or look for jobs".

January's job losses lowered expectations that the Bank of Canada would hike interest rates at its next rate announcement scheduled for March.

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