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Overall employment dips in spite of job gains in manufacturing

Published by Brad Fougere on May 08, 2015

Labour Force Survey Comments – April 2015

Canadian Labour Market

For the fourth time in the past six months, employment fell in Canada as losses in BC and Ontario more than offset gains in Quebec and, surprisingly, Alberta. All told, the Canadian economy lost 19,700 jobs in April, representing a small 0.1 per cent decrease and erasing about two thirds of the gains made in March. The job losses were not enough to budge the unemployment rate, however, which sat at 6.8 per cent, unchanged for the third month in a row.

The good news behind these headline numbers is that the quality of employment in Canada improved in April. The economy added 46,900 net new full-time positions last month – a number more than offset by the loss of 66,500 part-time jobs.

However, Canada’s overall job creation engine is still stuck in neutral. Through the first four months of the year, employment has increased by just 0.8 per cent over the same period last year.

April’s job losses were heavily concentrated in two industry sectors: construction and trade. Slower economic growth and reduced business capital spending are beginning to weigh on the construction sector, which lost more than 28,000 jobs last month – a 2.0 per cent decrease. Meanwhile, the impact of high-profile retail store closures across Canada continued to reverberate, contributing to a loss of 20,500 positions in that sector. Offsetting those losses in part were the addition of 11,000 net new positions in business and support services, as well as 10,400 new manufacturing jobs.

At the provincial level, Alberta surprised the country by creating 12,500 new jobs in April (0.5 per cent growth over March). With the increase, total employment in the province has now returned to its January peak. Quebec also posted solid gains last month, adding 11,700 positions. There were increases as well in Saskatchewan and in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Those gains were more than offset, however, by sharp losses in BC and continued weakness in Ontario. The BC economy shed 28,700 jobs – a decrease of 1.2 per cent in just one month – bringing total employment down to its lowest level since November 2013. For its part, Ontario lost 14,300 positions, while there were smaller declines in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and PEI.

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market

The manufacturing sector took the first step towards stemming the bleeding of jobs in April, adding 10,400 net new positions last month – an increase of 0.6 per cent. In spite of that increase, manufacturing employment is still down on the year. Total employment through the first four months of 2015 is 1.4 per cent lower compared to the same period last year. With the addition of new jobs in April, the unemployment rate in manufacturing fell to 4.9 per cent, from 5.2 per cent in March.

Provincially, the story of manufacturing job growth in April is one of east versus west. Led by Quebec and New Brunswick, the six easternmost provinces added 11,700 new manufacturing positions last month, while the four western provinces all experienced job losses. Alberta, in particular, has taken a hit on the manufacturing side. Reduced oil sands capital spending has contributed a 7.0 per cent drop in manufacturing employment since January.

In spite of losses in April, BC remains Canada's runaway leader in manufacturing job growth on the year. Through the first four months, manufacturing employment is up a remarkable 8.7 per cent comparted to 2014

Found in: StatsCan

National Office

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