Canada's jobless rate edges higher to 5.8 pct in January

Marco Green
February 11, 2019

The unemployment rate for all of Canada last month was listed at 5.8%, up from the 43-year low of 5.6% in December 2018.

The federal agency reported that Alberta's unemployment rate rose to 6.8 per cent for the month, up from 6.4 per cent in December.

In B.C., Stats Canada says the unemployment rate climbed three-tenths to 4.7 per cent in January, still the lowest of any Canadian province.

But the trends were slightly different in the major markets of Calgary and Edmonton.

"It might catch your eye that you have this massive print in youth employment, but the actual story is that youth employment over the a year ago is just flat; it was reversing some of the losses we've seen recently", said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC World Markets. Private sector jobs have been fuelling employment growth in the province, with an increase of 64,800 in the past year.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 18, 873, 900 people working last month across all of Canada, with 1,162,000 people unemployed. Canada's largest province added 41,000 jobs and saw 31,000 more people join the labour force.

The addition of 66,800 jobs came largely from the private sector, which saw a rise in the number of employee positions by 111,500 in January, the biggest monthly increase since 1976.

Friday's Statistics Canada numbers also showed that employees worked 1.2 per cent more hours, year-over-year, compared to the 0.9 per cent reading in December.

Following a quieter month in December, volatility returned, with the Labour Force Survey suggesting 67,000 jobs were created in January.

"Definitely the headline job gain was very impressive", said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter. The details were relatively solid too, with the all of the jobs coming in paid employment and a slight tick up in wage growth despite Ontario's minimum wage increase falling out of the annual calculation.

Even with the improvement, the January number remained just under the inflation level, which suggests Canadians' salaries could have a tough time keeping up with rising prices for consumer goods.

Mendes predicted that first quarter economic growth is still likely to be "somewhat weak" due to struggles getting oil to new markets due to regulatory delays in building new pipelines.

The nation-wide data can be viewed through Statistics Canada's website.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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