Canada generated a record number of jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest in more than four decades, suggesting the labour market remains buoyant despite doubts about the health of the nation’s economy.
Employment increased by 94,100 in November, with broad-based gains across industries of mostly full-time jobs, Statistics Canada said Friday from Ottawa. That’s the largest one-month gain in records dating back to 1976. The jobless rate dropped to 5.6 per cent, also the lowest in the data, from 5.8 per cent in October.
This strength was a major surprise — economists were only expecting a gain of 10,000 — in an economy that has been hit by major headwinds in recent weeks, particularly in the oil sector.
The report could potentially ease some concerns the economy could be headed into a sharp slowdown.
Even the oil-producing hub of Alberta showed strength, adding 23,700 jobs on the month and pushing down the unemployment rate.
The national gain in employment also came with a strong increase in the labour supply, driven higher by both rising population and increasing participation rates. The labour force numbers grew by 77,200 last month, the biggest one-month gain since 2012.
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While this data series tends to be volatile, the overall state of Canada’s jobs market so far this year had been one of decent employment gains that are neither too hot nor too cold but with some concerning signs — up until November — appearing on the labour supply front.
The one negative number in the report was wages, with annual gains slowing to 1.7 per cent in November. That’s the slowest since July 2017.
Wage gains for permanent workers were 1.5 per cent, also the slowest in more than a year.
Overall, the economy has added a total 154,000 jobs through November, all full-time.
The nearest number to last month’s jobs gain was a 94,000 monthly reading in 2012.
• Actual hours worked were up 2.1 per cent in November from a year ago, versus 0.7 per cent in October
• The economy added 89,900 full-time jobs last month, while recording a 4,100 gain in part-time employment
• By industry, the professional, scientific and technical services category posted the biggest gain — 26,000