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Canadian Labour Market

Although employment growth remains modest, the Canadian labour market had its best month since May, adding 44,400 net new jobs in October. Driven by gains in public sector work, the number of jobs in the country increased by 0.2 per cent. In spite of a slight increase in the number of Canadians looking for work, those new jobs were enough to push the unemployment rate down slightly, from 7.1 per cent in September to 7.0 per cent last month.

As was the case in September, most new jobs in October were in part-time positions. In total, there were 35,400 part-time jobs created last month, while only 9,000 Canadians found full-time work. However, this relative surge in part-time work is only a very recent phenomenon. Since December, 71 per cent of all employment growth has been in full-time positions.

Canada’s sputtering job-creation machine in recent months is largely the result of a few specific, and severe, pockets of weakness across the country. The first of these is Alberta, which for several years has been the engine of the Canadian economy. New rounds of layoffs in the energy sector in September contributed to a loss of 10,800 jobs in the province last month. The other factor – which was reported last month – was a sharp decline in employment in the education sector in Ontario. There were 5,400 fewer education jobs in Ontario in October, adding to the 24,500 lost the previous month. These losses may relate to recent labour action in the public school system. With a settlement reached with most education staff, Ontario’s education employment numbers may recover in the coming months.

As noted above, most new jobs created in October were in the public service, where employment rose by 32,000 positions. Other gainers included wholesale and retail trade (17,600 net new jobs), and accommodation and food services industries (12,900 net new jobs). At the other end of the spectrum, construction employment fell last month (9,400 net jobs lost), as did the number of jobs in utilities (3,400 fewer positions). Education employment fell by 3,600 workers across the country, meaning that the sector added jobs outside Ontario.

Employment gains in October were heavily concentrated in two provinces – Ontario and BC. Those jurisdictions added 29,200 and 23,300 net new jobs, respectively. New Brunswick and PEI saw strong employment growth for the month as well. In addition to Alberta, Quebec was one of the few provinces to see fewer jobs last month, with a decline of 5,600 positions. The provincial manufacturing sector was primarily responsible for those losses.

In spite of a recession and new announcements of layoffs, Alberta remains Canada’s jobs growth leader so far in 2015. Through 10 months, employment is up 1.6 per cent in the province, compared to 0.9 per cent nationally.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

Manufacturing employment in Canada rose for the second straight month in October, adding 6,500 new jobs – good for a month-over-month growth rate of 0.4 per cent. In spite of those gains, the unemployment rate in manufacturing jumped from 4.5 per cent to 5.1 per cent, as the sector was unable to absorb a significant influx of new workers. Nevertheless, the growing labour pool in manufacturing is welcome news for employers struggling to find workers to fill positions.

For the year to date, manufacturing employment remains below last year’s levels. There are more than 7,000 fewer manufacturing jobs so far this year compared to the first 10 months of 2014. However, there is reason for most manufacturers to be optimistic. First manufacturing employment trends in 2014 and 2015 have been moving in opposite directions. Last year, employment started out strongly but fell more or less steadily throughout the year. This year, the opposite trend is taking place. Manufacturers have added 12,400 jobs since last December.

The second factor is the impact of Alberta’s struggling energy sector on manufacturing in that province. Alberta has lost 9,300 manufacturing jobs since December, meaning that in all other provinces, manufacturers have added nearly 22,000 jobs.

These struggles in Alberta also weighed on national manufacturing labour markets in October. The province lost 2,200 manufacturing jobs last month alone – a decrease of 1.6 per cent over September. However, the situation was worse in Quebec, where manufacturing employment fell by 5,800, offsetting a nearly identical spike in employment the previous month.

The opposite was true in Ontario, where 10,800 new jobs were created in October, making up for comparable losses in September. Manufacturing employment was also up strongly all across Atlantic Canada last month, as well as in Saskatchewan.



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