Net growth of 74,100 jobs a surprise to economists
Unemployment rate drops to 6.8 per cent in September
OTTAWA — If we stand back a bit and look at the big picture, North America seems to be in pretty good shape — certainly when compared with many other economies in the world.
There’s no question that Canada is counting on the support of the United States to firm up its economy and growth in jobs. And that appears to be working, although slowly and inconsistently.
Monthly labour market surveys have been up as often as they have been down, throwing into question the accuracy of the numbers crunched at Statistics Canada.
But the longer view reveals a more steady growth pattern.
Hiring during September, when all gains and losses were accounted for, showed a net increase of 74,100. Most economists were looking for something closer to 20,000 new jobs.
Who can blame them for lowballing Friday’s data. Last month’s employment surge came after a loss of 11,000 positions in August, and continued the see- saw ride of the past year or so.
Still, when averaged over the past six months — including the August and September tallies — Canada’s labour market actually showed monthly growth of 15,000, “which is better than the 3,000 to 5,000 we were plugging along at before,” said Ken Wills, senior corporate leader at Canadian-Forex.
The September report, he said, “definitely blew things out of the water as far as what anybody was expecting.”
Viewed another way, through the closely watched unemployment rate, Statistics Canada reported a drop of two percentage points to 6.8 per cent last month — a level not touched since December 2008. If Canada used the same formula as in the United States, we would be tied with our much larger neighbour at 5.9 per cent.
“There are certainly some grounds for optimism here,” said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.