News Article

Employment: A second month of strong job creation

Posted: May 16, 2012

April employment numbers heralded a second month of strong gains in employment, fuelling optimism about Canada's economic strength. The only ones unlikely to celebrate are the under-25s. According to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, the youth unemployment rate remained at 13.9% in April, little changed since July 2009.

April saw employment increase by 58,000 jobs, following an 82,000 increase in March. Compared with a year ago, says StatsCan, employment was up 1.2% or 214,000 positions. Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at TD Bank Group, puts it another way: "Over the past six months, net job creation ó a good indicator of the underlying trend ó is now running at around 26,000 a month. Job growth since 2002 has averaged about 20,000 a month.î

Even better news is the quality of the jobs created. Full-time employment enjoyed the biggest gains in April ó more than 44,000 positions. All of the growth over the past 12 months, adds StatsCan, was in full-time work, up 217,000 positions or 1.6%, while part-time employment was unchanged. The greatest strength was in the goods sector, with increases in construction, manufacturing, natural resources and agriculture.

It is the public sector that registered losses, which is not surprising given that governments, federal and provincial, have vowed to reduce public sector spending and trim their deficits. Services hiring was down 12,000 positions, led by a 32,000-drop in public administration positions, notes CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld.

"The tilt toward full-time and private sector workî adds Shenfeld, "is further reassurance that after a long slumber, the Canadian economy is waking up.î

But it is not all coming up roses. The jobless rate did creep upward to 7.3% in April, put down to unemployed workers, encouraged by recent gains, returning to the labour market. The participation rate moved to 66.7%, marginally higher than March's 66.6%. Despite gains in the 25-plus category, Burleton notes that the share of adult Canadians with jobs continues to sit more than a full percentage point below its 10-year average of about 63%.

Geographically, employment increased in Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. There was little change in the other three provinces, says StatsCan.

Perhaps of more interest is comparison to the U.S. When adjusted to U.S. concepts, Canada's employment rate was 62.6% vs. 58.4% in the U.S. ó a 4.2-percentage-point difference. Until 2002, says StatsCan, Canada's employment rate was "markedlyî lower than that of the U.S.: "Since 2002, the adjusted employment rate in Canada has been higher, with the gap between the two countries widening since late 2006.î