Employment Growth Stalled for a Second Consecutive Month in August

From Brittney Windatt

Employment was little changed for the second consecutive month in August but the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 7.3 percent.   This comes in a month in which the stock markets went through a wild roller coaster ride and we found that GDP growth in the second quarter of this year had turned negative (making it quite likely that we may be in a new recession).   The details do give some reasons for concern.

During the month of August, employment losses were in the private sector – construction, transportation and warehousing, and natural resources.   These declined, however, were offset by an increase in health care and social assistance – sectors that are typically funded with government money.

Over the past 12 months, employment has grown by   only 1.3 percent, mostly in Ontario and Alberta, and among private sector employees.   Over this same period of time, full-time employment increased 2.2 percent while part-time work declined 2.3 percent. But the tide may be turning now, with the private sector actually shedding jobs.

According to age, those among 25-54 experienced an increase in employment, but these gains were offset by losses among those aged 55 and over.   This summer, the average unemployment rate for students aged 15 to 24 was 17 percent, slightly above the rate of 16.9 percent for the summer of 2010.

According to Statistics Canada, the construction industry shed 24,000 jobs in August; employment in transportation and warehousing fell by 14,000; employment in natural resources fell for the second consecutive month by 12,000.   However, despite the loss in employment for the transportation and warehousing industry, this industry has posted the highest growth rate of all industries in the past 12 months at 6.3 percent.   On the other hand, employment in health care and social assistance rose by 50,000 in August – more than offsetting the decline in July.   Continuing a long-term upward trend, health care and social assistance has grown by 2.9 percent over the past 12 months.

Despite unemployment rates remaining the same for Alberta and Ontario, over the past year both provinces had employment growth above the national average with Alberta leading the way at 4.2 percent and Ontario at a 1.5 percent increase.

People ages 25 to 54 experienced an increase of 23,000 in employment, while those aged 55 and over saw a decline of 25,000.   Again, employment among the students aged 15 to 24 experienced minor changes.

Overall, employment growth in the past 12 months has been quite weak, given the magnitude of the downturn that the economy went through in 2009. Now it appears that even this little momentum may have been lost.

The full Statistics Canada report can be found here:

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/labour-travail/lfs-epa/lfs-epa-eng.htm