Uneven Job Numbers
This morning, Statistics Canada provided another piece of evidence that the job market is not recovering nearly as rapidly as Gross Domestic Product. In March, total employment rose by 17,900, but full-time employment was actually down by 14,200. This divergence reflected 32,200 more part-time positions.
The modest increase in total employment kept pace with Canadaâ€™s growing labour force, but barely dented unemployment. In total, more than 1.5 million Canadians remain officially unemployed. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2%.
Is the Loonie Limiting Employment?
Todayâ€™s figures suggest that the soaring Canadian dollar may be partly responsible for the weak job market. Among the strongest employment growth was in construction, a classic non-traded industry, and natural resources, where higher commodity prices have accompanied the higher exchange rate.
However, there were few job gains in manufacturing. Employment fell in other export-oriented industries such as transportation and hotel accommodation. Perhaps not surprisingly, industries vulnerable to the higher loonie underperformed industries insulated from exchange rates.
Mixed Regional Picture
Albertaâ€™s appreciable loss of jobs, combined with its growing labour force, drove provincial unemployment close to its all-time high. In March, 159,200 Albertans were officially unemployed, more than in any previous month of the economic crisis. Indeed, March 2010 was the highest monthly unemployment total on record, with the sole exception of September 1984 (when 161,000 Albertans were officially unemployed.)
By contrast, official unemployment declined appreciably in Ontario. However, this decline reflected a shrinking labour force almost as much as increased employment. Some Ontarians opted out of the job market in March. While the participation rate remained unchanged nationally, it edged down in Ontario.