OTTAWA – The Canadian economy churned out an additional 21,600 jobs last month, the most since August, although almost all the new workers were part-time and the unemployment rate was unchanged.
The headline increase in employment was almost twice the 12,000 that economists had expected, but the details were unlikely to persuade markets that Canada’s economy shifted to a higher gear in November.
Along with the overwhelming preponderance of part-time jobs, most of the gains came in the less desirable self-employment class. Employers only added 2,500 full- and part-time workers.
Regionally, the agency said only Alberta had a significant increase in job creation relative to its population with a pickup of about 11,000, while Newfoundland and Labrador lost about 2,600 workers. Other provinces experienced only minor changes relative to their populations.
Statistics Canada noted that even with the bigger than expected gain last month, job creation in Canada has settled at an average 13,400 per month so far into 2013, compared to an average of 25,400 for the same 11-month period in 2012.
While the unemployment rate has dropped 0.3 percentage points so far this year, the agency pointed out that was due to a decrease in the participation rate, meaning the labour force grew at a slower pace than the population as a whole.
Analysts believe the economy needs to create close to 20,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with the growth in the labour force, so the pickup this year suggests an economy that is growing, but below potential, a view that is shared by the Bank of Canada.
Earlier this week, the central bank maintained its accommodative one per cent interest rate pointing out that the persistently low inflation rate in the country suggested continued and significant economic slack.
There were a few bright spots in Friday’s labour report. The most notable was the oversized increase of 51,000 new workers in the private sector, a figure that includes part-timers and self-employed. That continues a trend over the past year that has seen almost all the job gains in the private sector.
Meanwhile, the public sector lost about 29,000 jobs during the month.
As well, the agency said employment in the troubled and key manufacturing sector rose by 24,600, although factory jobs are still down 44,000 from a year ago.
Other gainers were the business, building and other support services, which saw 31,000 more workers, and employment in the information, culture and recreation industries rose by about 16,000.
Offsetting the increases, construction and public administration each lost about 18,000 workers in November.
It was also a poor month for youth, with employment in the 15 to 24 age group declining by about 26,000, while all other age categories saw increases.
Meanwhile, In the U.S., the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of seven per cent in November as employers added 203,000 jobs in the month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
-With a report from Toronto staff