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Canadian Labour Market

For the fourth consecutive month, Canadian labour markets were at an effective standstill. All told, there were 12,100 net new jobs created across the country in September, good for a monthly growth rate of less than 0.1 per cent – nearly identical to the numbers for August. The unemployment rate edged up from 7.0 per cent to 7.1 per cent, as the number of new jobs created was insufficient to absorb all the new entrants into the labour market.

While September’s job number look a lot like those for August on the surface, there are a number of important differences in the underlying numbers. First of all, growth in August was driven by a surge in full-time jobs offsetting a significant drop in part-time work. In September, the opposite was true. There were 74,000 part-time jobs created in Canada last month, while the number of full-time positions fell by 61,900.

The good news is that there appears to be a specific, temporary reason for the decline in full-time employment. September's job numbers were clearly impacted by the rotating teachers’ strike in Ontario and similar labour action in Quebec. Employment in education plunged in September, falling by 3.9 per cent (51,000 jobs). Those losses were entirely concentrated in Canada’s two largest provinces. Removing the impact of those jobs actions paints a far more optimistic picture of labour markets in September.

Even so, with three quarters of the year in the books, 2015 will undoubtedly be another poor year for job creation across Canada. Not including recession-driven losses in 2009, last year was the worst year for Canadian job creation since 1993. This year is poised to be the second-worst.

Aside from the decline in education, most new jobs created in September were in services industries. There were 32,500 new jobs added in information, culture and recreation services, and another 16,800 added in health care and social assistance. A similar number of new jobs were created in business support services. Offsetting those gains were losses in trade (8,900 jobs) and in transportation and warehousing positions (7,800), as well as accommodation and food services (5,100) and utilities (4,300).

Provincially, there were solid job gains across Canada, with the exceptions of Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Defying expectations for the second consecutive month, Alberta posted one of the strongest performances of any province, adding 12,300 new jobs in September – a 0.5 per cent increase over August. A similar number of jobs were created in BC and in Quebec.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

After three consecutive months of slow declines, manufacturing employment held steady in September. Overall, there was a modest increase of 600 jobs, but that represented well under 0.1 per cent growth for the month. The unemployment rate in manufacturing remained unchanged, at 4.5 per cent.

For the first three quarters of the year, employment in manufacturing is down compared to the same period in 2014 – by about 7,900 jobs (0.5 per cent). However, most of that difference was because of much lower jobs numbers earlier in the year. Employment in September 2015 was slightly higher than it was the same month last year.

On a provincial basis, there was a steep drop in manufacturing employment in Ontario, cancelled out by smaller gains elsewhere. Ontario lost 12,200 manufacturing jobs last month, a 1.6 per cent decrease over August. Although manufacturing employment in Ontario has been in steady decline over the last few years, there had been some positive momentum building early in 2015, with solid gains since February. September’s job numbers put that momentum at risk. There were also sharp declines in manufacturing employment in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, which saw employment fall by 16.7 per cent and 5.0 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Quebec and BC posted strong employment gains in manufacturing last month. Quebec added 6,100 new manufacturing jobs, while 5,500 net new positions were created in BC. Alberta manufacturers also enjoyed a rebound in September; with the addition of 3,200 new positions, Alberta manufacturers gained back about half of the severe losses they experienced in August. Manufacturing employment also increased in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. 

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