Labour Force Survey Analysis –  January 2017

Positive momentum continues into 2017

Canadian Labour Market

The Canadian labour market began the year on a positive note, building on a strong finish to 2016. After adding 53,700 positions in December, the economy created another 48,300 net new jobs in January - one of the strongest two-month performances in recent memory. The increase was enough to lower the unemployment rate by one basis point to 6.8 per cent.

Employment Growth chart

This recent growth appears to be signalling a sudden, but long-awaited turnaround in Canada's labour markets. For over two years, national job creation had been stagnant; until last November, year-over-year growth had been stubbornly below 1.0 per cent in 33 out of the last 35 months. Canada appears to have finally broken out of that rut, with year-over-year growth accelerating to 1.5 per cent in January.

labour mkt momenteum chart

The one mildly disappointing note to January's overall jobs numbers was that, unlike December when job gains were entirely in full-time positions, about two-thirds of January's increase was in part-time work. There were 32,400 net new part-time jobs created last month, compared to 15,800 full-time positions.

job gains part-time chart

Looking across Canada, most provinces saw employment rise in January. By far the largest increases, however, were in Ontario and BC which added 28,800 and 11,200 jobs, respectively. On a percentage basis, it was Newfoundland and Labrador that posted the fastest growth, with a 2.2 per cent increase in employment compared to December.

New Brunswick (-0.8 per cent) and Saskatchewan (-0.1 per cent) were the only two provinces to see overall employment decline in January. While the decrease in New Brunswick was an aberration from recent trend levels, Saskatchewan is struggling to create jobs. Employment in that province is down 0.8 per cent compared to a year ago.

total employment growth chart

At the industry level, it was the services sector that once again drove national employment gains. Of the 48,300 jobs created last month, 42,600 were in service-sector positions. Leading the way were finance, insurance and real estate-related industries, which added 20,500 jobs. Employment was also higher in business support service industries (16,400 net new jobs) and in transportation and warehousing (11,400).

Employment Growth by Sector

Manufacturing Sector Labour Market
After adding 3,600 net new jobs in December, manufacturing sector employment was essentially flat in January. In total, manufacturing employment fell by about 600 positions last month, bringing total employment to about 1.68 million. As a result, the manufacturing unemployment rate jumped from 4.4 per cent in December to 4.7 per cent last month.

Mfg employment in Cda

Results were mixed across the country, with five provinces adding new manufacturing positions and five posting lower employment levels. However, the story in January was dominated by Ontario, which added a remarkable 14,000 new manufacturing jobs compared to December. That increase - a 1.9 per cent spike - brought manufacturing employment in the province up to 759,600 total jobs - its highest level in 11 months.

mfg employment growth Jan

The bad news is that Ontario's gains were largely offset by poor performances in Quebec and Alberta. Quebec lost 7,300 manufacturing jobs in January, driving manufacturing employment to its lowest level since March 2015. In Alberta, meanwhile, manufacturing employment continued its steady downward trend that began with the crash in oil prices over two years ago. Manufacturing employment in that province dropped by 3,900 positions compared to December. In the past year, Alberta has lost 20,600 manufacturing jobs. In the past two years, it has lost 44,300 positions.



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