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Manufacturing employment retreats from January’s gains

Published by Brad Fougere on March 13, 2015

Canadian Labour Market

Employment was essentially flat in February, as losses in manufacturing and in forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas were largely offset by gains in education and in wholesale and retail trade. Overall, the Canadian economy lost just 1,000 jobs in February. Those losses, combined with an increase in the number of Canadians looking for work, caused the unemployment rate to rise to 6.8 per cent from 6.6 per cent in January.

Provincially, Quebec and Ontario enjoyed strong gains in February, adding 16,800 and 13,800 jobs, respectively. Quebec, in particular, has been driving employment gain in Canada in recent months, adding 40,400 net new positions since October compared to a net loss of 33,600 jobs in all other provinces combined.

Outside of Quebec and Ontario, all other provinces were flat or recorded losses in February. The Alberta labour market was particularly hard-hit last month, losing net 14,000 positions – a 0.6 per cent decrease and one of the province’s worst monthly performances in the past five years. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador also recorded steep job losses in February.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

After a strong showing to start the year, the manufacturing sector gave back all its jobs gains from the January and then some. In January, manufacturing businesses added 10,700 net new jobs – the sector’s largest single-month increase in employment since November 2013. In February, however, the sector shed just under 20,000 positions to record its worst monthly performance in two years. As a result, the unemployment rate in manufacturing jumped from 4.3 per cent to 4.6 per cent in February.

Most provinces recorded losses in manufacturing employment in February. Leading the way was Ontario where there were 9,500 fewer positions – the third consecutive month of decline for the province. Ontario has lost 18,500 manufacturing jobs since November.

There were also significant losses in Alberta and in Newfoundland and Labrador, although in the latter case, the small sample size means that survey data numbers tend to fluctuate dramatically from one month to the next. In the case of Alberta, the province lost 6,100 manufacturing jobs in February, although employment through the first two months of the year remains 3.2 per cent higher than over the same two months in 2014.     

Quebec and New Brunswick were the only two provinces to increase the size of the payrolls in manufacturing in February. Quebec added 2,400 new positions (an increase of 0.5 per cent), while New Brunswick added a healthy 900 jobs (3.0 per cent higher than in January).

At the sub-provincial level, the regions of Lanaudière, Mauricie and Laval in Quebec all posted strong manufacturing job gains in February. The Thompson-Okanagan region of BC also added a significant number of new jobs last month.

Found in: StatsCan

National Office

Alberta British Columbia
Manitoba New Brunswick
Newfoundland & Labrador Nova Scotia
Ontario Québec
Prince Edward Island Saskatchewan