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 Canada’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?

Today’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

While national employment edged up, employment declined in four provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Alberta and British Columbia.

Alberta’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.

UPDATE (April 10): Quoted by The Toronto Star, Hamilton Spectator, and CanWest


  • (The following is from the CLC analysis by my colleague Sylvain Schetagne..

    The percentage of Canadians that have been unemployed for more than 6 months has reached a new record level since the beginning of the job crisis. In March 2010, 21.75% of unemployed Canadians, or more than 1 out of 5 unemployed Canadians, have been unemployed for more than 6 months. In March 2008, the percentage of unemployed Canadians that have been unemployed for more than 6 months was 12.4%.

    The “real” unemployment rate, that is the unemployment rate that includes discouraged workers and involuntary part-time workers is still very high in March 2010, at 12.4%. The “real” unemployment rate was 8.9% in March 2008. In the last 12 months, the real unemployment rate showed no signs of improvement. Between March 2009 and March 2010, the real unemployment rate remained at 12.4%.

    The number of unemployed remains more than 33% above what it was before the beginning of the Job crisis, with 1,515,100 unemployed last month compared to 1,137,400 in October 2008.

    Finally, younger workers continue to face relatively high unemployment rates. Workers aged 15-24 represented about half of all lay-off in the middle of the recession, and their unemployment rate continued to increase in March 2010, now at 15.6%, compared to unemployment rate below 12% before October 2008.

  • Sylvain calculates that the total number of permanent jobs is still down 453,000 from October, 2008 . (The numbers are not seasonally adjusted but StatsCan considers the permanent category to be basically non seasonal.)

  • a couple of key numbers in today’s report for me-

    public sector employment dropped significantly while private sector rose, seemingly in part-time. So we add precarious and lose quality. Is this the beginning of what we were predicting- we’ll see next month, but the qualitative over this last month would lead one to suspect more loss.

    Seems like more are coming out looking for work. Given the R8 has not budged much, does not bode well given the rising loonie. Stimulus money seems to be in the field from the many reported projects that have begun as the spring construction season starts up, we’ll see if it starts moving above the seasonal adjusted and that should be a proxy for the level of stimulus as summer comes.


    The other one is the

  • Don’t know about the rest of Canada, but we’ve still got a real estate bubble in Vancouver. If the economy’s less than good now, what happens when it bursts?

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