Monday, 19 February, 2018

Canada's risky jobs survey posts largest month-to-month drop since 2009

The drop in jobs was driven by a 137,000 decline in part-time work the biggest fall The drop in jobs was driven by a 137,000 decline in part-time work the biggest fall
| 10 February, 2018, 09:48

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

The unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent from December's revised 5.8 percent.

Employment declines were seen across the field, from low-paying jobs in warehousing, retail and wholesale to lucrative areas of professional, scientific and technical services.

Ontario hiked minimum wage by some 20 per cent to $14 per hour at the beginning of the year, a move some economists said could result in mass job losses as employers look to reduce costs.

The overall number was dragged down by a loss of 137,000 part-time positions in what was easily the category's largest one-month collapse since the agency started gathering the data in 1976.

However, analysts said it would take months of data to assess the fallout from Ontario's minimum-wage hike and cautioned against reading too much into January's employment declines.

Cape Breton's unemployment rate stood at 14.3 per cent in January, up from 14.1 per cent for the same period in 2017, according to job figures released by Statistics Canada on Friday.

For most of past year, wage growth was sluggish even though employers were on a hiring spree.

"January saw an (88,000) drop in employment, reversing about half of the spectacular gains we registered late previous year".


Despite Canada's healthy economic performance past year, Alexander said the surprising pace of job creation had been stronger than the other data.

"It doesn't change the broader narrative around the Bank of Canada".

However, economists also pointed to possible connections between Ontario's minimum wage and Canada's stronger average wage growth of 3.3 per cent in January.

The jobless figure fell by more than half a per cent in Quebec City to 3.3 per cent.

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

Most analysts cautiously highlighted the potential connection.

"Those looking for the impact of the minimum wage hike in Ontario might find evidence in a 51K drop in that province's employment (all of which was in part time)", wrote CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld.

"But proving causality may remain contentious".

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