Statistics Canada released its latest labour market survey results on Friday, February 4th – and it is good news. 69,000 new jobs were created, and although unemployment edged up, it was simply because more people were looking for work (and presumably feel more optimistic about their chances of finding employment). But overall, the economic climate remains uncertain – so the recovery will likely remain uneven.
Employment rose once again in January by 69,000. During the same period, unemployment increased 0.2% to 7.8% as more people looked for work. Compared to January of last year, employment is up 1.9% (+327,000).
The increases in employment were evenly split between full and part time. Compared to January of last year, part-time employment grew by 2.8% (+91,000), while full time increased by 1.7% (+236,000).
Business, building and support services sectors saw increases. Transportation, warehousing, accommodation and food services posted declines.
Six provinces saw gains in January: Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
January also experienced gains in the private sector, the public sector and the self-employed. Over the last 12 months, there was growth in both the public sector (+3.4%) and the private sector (+2.5%), while self-employment declined by 2.3%.
Most of the employment gains in January were among women aged 25 and over.
Most of the employment increases were in the services sector
Business, building and other support services had gains in January (+34,000). There were gains in the public administration and agricultural sectors as well.
The manufacturing sector saw little change in January, following an increase of 66,000 the previous month. Employment in this industry was up 3.3% (+57,000) from last year.
After seeing some gains in December, transportation and warehousing employment declined by 32,000 in January. Although from the same period a year ago, employment in this sector grew by 6.5% (+51,000).
The accommodation and food services sectors saw decreases of 26,000 in January. Over the past year their losses were 3.5% (-37,000).
Employment gains in Ontario but Losses in British Columbia
Employment in Ontario grew for the third consecutive month (+36,000) in January. The unemployment rate remained the same at 8.1% as more people were involved in the labour market. From the same time last year, the number of workers in Ontario grew by 2.3% (+151,000), above the national growth rate of 1.9%.
Employment in British Columbia edged down in January and the unemployment rate grew 0.6% to 8.2%. Over the same period last year, employment rose 0.7% (+15,000).
More women were employed in January
Women aged 25 and over saw increases of (+55,000) in January. Over the past year however, employment growth for women was primarily amongst those aged 55 and over. Their rate of employment rose by 1.4 percentage points to 29.4%. During the same time, the rate of employment for women aged 25 to 54 dropped 0.5 percentage points to 77.0%.
Employment for men aged 25 to 54 saw little change in January. Since last year, their rate of employment increased 1.5% to 84.6%, while the rate increased 1.0 percentage points to 39.5% for men aged 55 and over.
Employment for the group aged 15 to 24 saw little change in January. Over the past year, their numbers have almost stayed the same.
Even though the overall results of the survey were positive, however, the economic situation in Canada remains uncertain. Many of the factors producing this uncertainty are outside of Canada’s control: The job and home markets in the United States remain weak, inflation pressures are increasing as resource prices around the world are rising, the financial troubles in the European Union are far from over, and new uncertainty may result from the ongoing crisis in Egypt. At home, Government spending needs to be reigned in and/or taxes may need to increase for the fiscal deficit to be dealt with, the future of the home market remains uncertain, with one report released just this weak predicting a dramatic drop in Canada’s house prices. In addition, if global inflation pressures do materialize, the Bank of Canada may have no choice but to start raising the interest rates earlier than planned – impacting negatively the large number of Canadians with excessive (by historic standards) debt levels, and may slowing down or even reversing any economic recovery. All this means that, unfortunately, the strong January numbers are unlikely to be the beginning of a solid long-term job market recovery.