Job­less rate falls to 8.3 per cent as 43,000 part-time po­si­tions added

Cape Breton Post - - BUSINESS -

OTTAWA (CP) — The Cana­dian econ­omy got some good news Fri­day, with a drop in the Jan­uary un­em­ploy­ment rate to 8.3 per cent — al­though that big­ger-than-ex­pected de­crease was due al­most en­tirely to gains in part-time jobs.

Last month’s un­em­ploy­ment rate was one-tenth of a per­cent­age point down from a re­vised fig­ure of 8.4 per cent in De­cem­ber, Statis­tics Canada re­ported.

The im­pe­tus was ex­clu­sively from 43,000 new part-time jobs. Full-time em­ploy­ment was lit­tle changed, sug­gest­ing that while the re­cov­ery is start­ing to take hold, jobs growth is still lag­ging.

Economists had ex­pected 15,000 jobs of all sorts would be added last month.

De­spite job in­creases in four of the last six months, Canada’s em­ploy­ment was still 280,000 lower than in Oc­to­ber 2008, when the re­ces­sion be­gan. The Jan­uary data, how­ever, re­versed De­cem­ber job losses which were re­ported in a Statis­tics Canada re­vi­sion last week.

Economists, though, said part-time jobs are bet­ter than noth­ing.

”The er­ratic re­cov­ery in the job mar­ket con­tin­ues.” wrote Dou­glas Porter, deputy chief econ­o­mist at BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets.

”While the de­tails of this re­port were less im­pres­sive than the head­line re­sults, there is lit­tle doubt that the job mar­ket is grind­ing for­ward.”

Porter noted that em­ploy­ment is just one-tenth of a per­cent­age point be­low the lev­els of a year ago: “An amaz­ingly quick turn­around from the dis­mal con­di­tions of early last year, all things con­sid­ered.”

Derek Holt of Sco­tia Cap­i­tal said the data aren’t great, but there is im­prove­ment.

“The trend is right, if al­beit volatile. A see­saw pat­tern of job gains and losses over re­cent months has the net pic­ture cough­ing up job growth, warts and all.“

Dawn Des­jardins, as­sis­tant chief econ­o­mist at the Royal Bank, said the job in­creases bode well for the next few months.

“Jan­uary’s job gain au­gurs well for the pace of ex­pan­sion to re­main firm in the first quar­ter of 2010.” she said.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment this week pledged to make job cre­ation a top pri­or­ity in the com­ing weeks.

Ken Ge­or­getti, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Labour Congress that rep­re­sents most of Canada’s unions, said the gov­ern­ment must con­tinue its stim­u­lus spending to cre­ate jobs.

“The pri­vate sec­tor can­not, at this point, cre­ate a suf­fi­cient num­ber of jobs and eco­nomic growth,” Ge­or­getti said. “Now is time for in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment strate­gies and pro­cure­ment poli­cies that cre­ate jobs.”

For months op­po­si­tion par­ties have de­manded that the gov­ern­ment bring in a ro­bust job-cre­ation pol­icy. The gov­ern­ment is sched­uled to release its next bud­get on March 4 but Fi­nance Min­is­ter Jim Fla­herty has said there won’t be ad­di­tional spending be­yond the plan an­nounced Jan­uary 2009.

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