Local job figures blew away expectations as records indicated that 41,000 new jobs were created in March.
Alberta led the pack, adding almost 19,000 jobs last month, pulling down the jobless rate down to eight points to the national average, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. While Alberta still has fewer people employed than it did in 2015, the numbers show a reversal of the recent trend.
Stats Can also reported an increase in employment in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. At the same time, employment declined in Prince Edward Island and was little changed in the other provinces.
The overall 0.2 per cent increase in employment, lowered the national unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent. This was the fourth consecutive quarter with 0.2 per cent employment growth. “Adjusted to US concepts, the Canadian unemployment rate in March was 6.1 per cent versus 5.0 per cent in the United States.
In the 12 months to March, according to Stats Can, employment increased by 130,000 (+0.7 per cent), the result of growth in full-time work. Over the same period, the number of hours worked increased by 1.2 per cent.
Employment increased in health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, professional, scientific and technical services as well as “other services.” In contrast, there were fewer people employed in manufacturing.
The number of private sector employees increased in March while there was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.
Employment in Manitoba increased by 5,500 in March, and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.0 per cent as more people participated in the labour market. This unemployment rate was the lowest among all the provinces. Despite more Manitobans working in March, employment in the province was little changed from 12 months earlier.
In Nova Scotia, employment increased by 3,400 in March. As more people participated in the labour market, the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 per cent. Despite the increase in March, employment in the province has been on a downward trend since the fall of 2015.
In March, employment rose by 2,800 in Saskatchewan; however, the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 6.2 per cent as more people searched for work. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province was down slightly. Over the same period, the unemployment rate was up 1.7 percentage points—the result of more people looking for work.
Employment in Prince Edward Island declined by 700, and the unemployment rate was 11.0 per cent. In the 12 months to March, employment in the province decreased by 2,300 (-3.1 per cent).
Employment in British Columbia was little changed in March; however, on a year-over-year basis, gains came to 72,000 or 3.2 per cent—still the fastest growth rate among all the provinces. In March, the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.5 per cent, though it was up 0.6 percentage points compared with a year earlier, as more people searched for work.
In Ontario, employment was also little changed in March, and the unemployment rate stayed at 6.8 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province increased by 86,000 or 1.2 per cent, the second highest rate of growth among the provinces. All of the gains were in full-time work.
There was little change in employment in Quebec on both a monthly and a year-over-year basis. The unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent in March.
Age and gender
For people aged 25 to 54, employment rose by 40,000 in March, with gains of 22,000 among women and 18,000 among men. However, on a year-over-year basis, employment among 25- to 54-year-olds was little changed.
In March, the unemployment rate for men in this age group declined 0.2 percentage points to 6.7 per cent, while for women it was little changed at 5.5 per cent.
For youths aged 15 to 24, employment held steady in March, and the unemployment rate was 13.4 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, youth employment fell by 60,000 (-2.4 per cent), while their population declined by 44,000 (-1.0 per cent).
Employment among people aged 55 and older was little changed in March, and their unemployment rate was 6.0 per cent. In the 12 months to March, employment for this group increased by 149,000 (+4.2 per cent). Employment growth for men and women aged 55 and older has been driven by growth in their population.
In March, employment in health care and social assistance increased by 25,000, bringing total gains to 77,000 (+3.4 per cent) on a year-over-year basis.
There were also more workers in accommodation and food services (+18,000). In the 12 months to March, however, the number of people employed in this industry was down 27,000 (-2.2 per cent).
There were 12,000 more people working in professional, scientific and technical services in March. Compared with the same month a year earlier, gains for the industry totalled 52,000 or 3.8 per cent, the fastest year-over-year growth rate for all industries.
In “other services,” such as those related to civic and professional organizations, as well as repair and maintenance, employment increased by 9,900. In the 12 months to March, however, the number of people working in this industry was little changed.
In contrast, employment in manufacturing decreased by 32,000 in March, with losses in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry was little changed, as gains in Ontario and Nova Scotia were offset by losses in Alberta.
The number of employees in the private sector increased by 65,000 in March, bringing year-over-year gains to 109,000 (+0.9 per cent). Both on a monthly and year-over-year basis, there was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.