Canada adds 48,300 new jobs

Wage growth and hours worked slip

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/BUSINESS -

The coun­try’s labour mar­ket con­tin­ues to pump out new jobs, but Cana­di­ans are see­ing wage in­creases fade and their work hours shrink.

Last month, the job mar­ket un­ex­pect­edly added 48,300 net new po­si­tions, thanks to surges in part-time and pri­vate-sec­tor work, Statis­tics Canada said Fri­day.

The Jan­uary em­ploy­ment sur­vey showed an in­crease of 32,400 part-time po­si­tions and a smaller gain of 15,800 jobs in the more-de­sir­able cat­e­gory of full-time work. Both num­bers, how­ever, were too low to be deemed sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant.

The re­port also found that pri­vate-sec­tor jobs rose 32,400 be­tween De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, com­pared with an in­crease of 7,700 pub­lic-sec­tor po­si­tions.

The in­creases helped drop the unem­ploy­ment rate last month to 6.8 per cent from 6.9 per cent.

Economists de­scribed the over­all job growth, which once again de­fied their ex­pec­ta­tions, as “very im­pres­sive’’ and “re­mark­ably strong.’’

“It seems as if we are all think­ing that streak is go­ing to come to an end and it just keeps on go­ing,’’ said Desjardins se­nior econ­o­mist Jimmy Jean, not­ing the num­ber beat the con­sen­sus pre­dic­tion for a sixth straight month.

But even with more peo­ple work­ing, Jean said the com­po­si­tion of the labour data re­mained sub par due to some “lin­ger­ing weak­ness.’’

He pointed to the dis­ap­point­ing growth in hourly wages in Jan­uary com­pared with a year ear­lier. Hourly earn­ings in­creased by less than 1.3 per cent, which was be­low in­fla­tion.

In the past, Jean said hourly wages have of­ten grown be­tween two and three per cent, and some­times even a lit­tle bit more.

“So, there’s been a steady de­te­ri­o­ra­tion on that front and it seems like we can’t re­ally get off that tra­jec­tory,’’ said Jean, who also noted that year over year hours worked was only up 0.2 per cent due to the shift to­ward part-time work.

Jean noted that the Bank of Canada had ex­pressed con­cerns about hours worked and earn­ings growth and didn’t think the lat­est jobs data would ease its pre­oc­cu­pa­tions, even if over­all the job mar­ket con­tin­ues to ex­pand.

Other ex­perts also pointed to the slump­ing wage and work hours in­creases.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see that we had a de­cline in hours worked — we also saw very weak wage growth,’’ said Craig Alexander, chief econ­o­mist for the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada.

Alexander was en­cour­aged that the “sur­pris­ing’’ amount of job cre­ation that Canada saw in the sec­ond half of last year has con­tin­ued into 2017.

He said some peo­ple will point to neg­a­tive de­tails of the job growth, such as the rise of part-time po­si­tions.

But Alexander noted it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the gain of nearly 16,000 full­time po­si­tions last month was healthy on its own, even if most of the new jobs cre­ated were part time.

“I think the crit­ics are of­ten too glass-half-empty when they’re look­ing at this,’’ he said.

Look­ing back 12 months, Canada gained 276,100 net new jobs over­all with the ad­di­tion of 86,200 full-time po­si­tions and 189,900 part-time jobs.

The job mar­ket has now seen in­creases in five out of the last six monthly re­ports. In De­cem­ber, the over­all labour force ex­panded by 53,700 net jobs com­pared with the pre­vi­ous month.

Economists had pro­jected the job num­bers to stay un­changed last month and for the unem­ploy­ment rate to hold at 6.9 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Thom­son Reuters.

The vast ma­jor­ity of the new jobs — or 42,600 po­si­tions — were cre­ated in the ser­vices sec­tor, with the bulk of those con­cen­trated in ar­eas such as fi­nance, in­sur­ance, real es­tate, busi­ness man­age­ment, trans­porta­tion and ware­hous­ing.

The num­ber of fac­tory jobs in Canada in­creased by 5,600 po­si­tions last month.

The cat­e­gory of self-em­ployed po­si­tions added 8,200 last month while paid em­ployee jobs climbed by 40,000.

Among the prov­inces, On­tario gained the most jobs last month with 28,800 new po­si­tions, an in­crease of 0.4 per cent com­pared with De­cem­ber. Most of those new jobs — or 23,500 po­si­tions — were part time.

CP PHOTO

Statis­tics Canada says the econ­omy added 48,300 net new jobs in Jan­uary, pulling down the na­tional unem­ploy­ment rate to 6.8 per cent from 6.9 per cent. Work­ers are pic­tured at the Van­cou­ver Ship­yard in an Oc­to­ber 7, 2013, file photo.

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