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Labour Force Survey Analysis – December 2015

Canadian Labour Market

December saw Canadian labour markets recover the ground lost in November, bringing employment levels back to just below their election-driven October high. All told, Canada added 22,800 jobs in December – a modest increase of just 0.1 percent, but enough to end the year on a positive note. Job gains were not enough to budge the unemployment rate however, which remained unchanged at 7.1 per cent.

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The down side to December’s job gains was that they were entirely in part-time positions. There were 6,400 fewer full-time jobs in Canada last month, while employers added more than 29,000 part-time staff.

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Central Canada carried the country forward in December. Ontario and Quebec were the only two provinces to record any significant job creation last month, adding 34,900 and 12,700 jobs, respectively. All other provinces saw lower employment at the end of the year, with the exception of New Brunswick, where the number of jobs was negligibly higher.

Job losses were most pronounced in western Canada, as all four provinces ended the year on a weak note. Losses were steepest in Saskatchewan, where employment fell 0.8 per cent (4,600 net jobs lost) compared to November. However, the largest number of jobs lost were in BC, where there were 7,900 fewer positions available at year-end.

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On an industry basis, results were mixed in December. Of the sixteen broad industry categories, eight posted gains, seven lost ground and one was essentially flat. Four industry sectors accounted for most of December’s job growth: health care and social assistance (16,500 net new jobs), education (15,400), finance, insurance and real estate (10,300) and professional, scientific and technical services (9,000). Meanwhile, there were relatively high job losses in accommodation and food services industries (14,400 net jobs), wholesale and retail trade (8,600), and agriculture (7,900).

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

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Manufacturing businesses continued their late-year hiring spree in December, adding 6,100 new jobs last month. After stagnating in the late spring and early summer, manufacturers appear to be gathering significant momentum – there have been 30,000 net new manufacturing jobs created in Canada since September. In spite of those gains, however, the unemployment rate in manufacturing rose slightly to 5.2 per cent compared to 5.0 per cent in November.

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Provincially, manufacturing results were mixed. Four provinces saw notable gains in manufacturing employment – Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The remaining provinces all lost manufacturing jobs, with the exception of BC, where employment was flat.

mfg employment growth december chart image

Given the size of its manufacturing sector compared to the rest of the country, Ontario unsurprisingly accounted for most of the new jobs, with 12,700 net new positions created last month. Partially offsetting those gains was a loss of 5,000 positions in Quebec and 1,400 in Alberta.

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