Labour mar­ket posts ninth-straight monthly gain

Job­less rate dips to 6.2%

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - BUSINESS - ANDY BLATCHFORD

OT­TAWA — The labour mar­ket ex­panded for a ninth-con­sec­u­tive month to reg­is­ter its long­est job-cre­at­ing streak since be­fore the fi­nan­cial cri­sis nine years ago, Sta­tis­tics Canada said Fri­day.

The in­crease of 22,200 jobs last month also helped nudge the un­em­ploy­ment rate to a nine-year low of 6.2 per cent, down from 6.3 per cent in July.

Look­ing be­yond the more-volatile monthly num­bers, the labour mar­ket grew 2.1 per cent in Au­gust com­pared to a year ear­lier. From the ad­di­tion of 374,300 net new jobs, 57 per cent of them were full time.

The jobs data pro­vided yet an­other sign of Canada’s healthy eco­nomic tra­jec­tory.

The coun­try’s sur­pris­ingly solid start to 2017 has al­ready mo­ti­vated the Bank of Canada to hike its in­ter­est rate twice this year, in­clud­ing an in­crease ear­lier in the week.

Some econ­o­mists said Fri­day’s num­bers val­i­dated the cen­tral bank’s move and helped sup­port pre­dic­tions of an­other rate in­crease be­fore the end of the year — or per­haps as soon as next month.

“If you ac­tu­ally look over the last 12 months, we’ve had re­mark­ably strong job cre­ation,” said Craig Alexander, chief econ­o­mist for the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada.

“The Cana­dian econ­omy is show­ing a lot of mo­men­tum.”

The Au­gust fig­ures also con­tained an­other promis­ing de­vel­op­ment: a long-awaited im­prove­ment in wage growth.

Com­pared to a year ear­lier, av­er­age hourly wages ex­panded at a faster rate than in­fla­tion to reach 1.8 per cent. It marked their big­gest year-over-year in­crease since last Oc­to­ber.

The Bank of Canada noted ear­lier in the week that wage growth had been “more sub­dued” than his­tor­i­cal trends have shown.

“It has sort of been the missing in­gre­di­ent,” said Alexander, who added that wage growth usu­ally starts to rise af­ter job cre­ation in­creases and the un­em­ploy­ment rate falls.

RBC as­sis­tant chief econ­o­mist Paul Fer­ley said the wage-growth num­ber pro­vided ten­ta­tive ev­i­dence that pres­sure is build­ing on a tight­en­ing job mar­ket.

“We just have to see whether it con­tin­ues,” Fer­ley said.

But while the ex­te­rior of Fri­day’s jobs report looked good, the monthly data also fea­tured sev­eral blem­ishes.

The Au­gust growth was fu­elled by less-de­sir­able work, as the econ­omy added 110,400 part-time jobs and shed 88,100 full-time po­si­tions.

Sta­tis­tics Canada said most of the de­cline in full-time work was con­cen­trated among young Cana­di­ans aged 15 to 24 years old. The youth cat­e­gory also showed a no­table de­crease last month in par­tic­i­pa­tion as fewer young peo­ple looked for work, lead­ing an­a­lysts to sug­gest the back-to-school fac­tors made a con­tri­bu­tion.

The data also showed a de­cline of 10,400 paid em­ployee po­si­tions, while the num­ber of peo­ple who de­scribed them­selves as self-em­ployed, in­clud­ing un­paid work­ers in fam­ily busi­nesses, rose by 32,700.

“While very solid on the sur­face, the de­tails of this report are gen­er­ally slug­gish, leav­ing a mixed bag,” BMO chief econ­o­mist Doug Porter wrote in a re­search brief for clients.

By in­dus­try, the ser­vices sec­tor gained 35,900 jobs while the num­ber of fac­tory po­si­tions fell by 13,700. The goods-sec­tor slide was led by a loss of 11,100 man­u­fac­tur­ing po­si­tions.

On­tario posted the only no­table gain among prov­inces, while em­ploy­ment de­clined in Nova Scotia. The head­line job num­bers were lit­tle changed in the other prov­inces, Sta­tis­tics Canada said.

The streak of nine-straight months of job cre­ation marked Canada’s long­est run since Fe­bru­ary 2008, when em­ploy­ment rose for a 10th-con­sec­u­tive month.

“Over­all, as much as it might be ar­gued that the com­po­nents of the report were sub-par, job ex­pan­sion con­tin­ues un­abated, re­flect­ing sus­tained eco­nomic mo­men­tum and busi­nesses and con­sumers brim­ming with con­fi­dence,” Des­jardins se­nior econ­o­mist Jimmy Jean wrote in a re­search note.

While very solid on the sur­face, the de­tails of this report are gen­er­ally slug­gish, leav­ing a mixed bag.” BMO chief econ­o­mist Doug Porter

GE­OFF ROBINS/GETTY IM­AGES

A Cana­dian flag as it flies in front of the peace tower on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa. Com­pared to a year ear­lier, in Au­gust, av­er­age hourly wages ex­panded at a faster rate than in­fla­tion to reach 1.8 per cent. It marked their big­gest year-over-year in­crease since last Oc­to­ber.

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