Canadian economy added 35,200 jobs in December, unemployment rate falls

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OTTAWA — The Canadian job market bounced back in December to post a gain of 35,200 jobs and reverse some of the losses in November which saw the biggest monthly loss since the financial crisis.

The increase in the number of jobs came as the unemployment rate also fell to 5.6 per cent compared with 5.9 per cent in November when the country lost 71,200 jobs.

Statistics Canada said Friday the gain in jobs came as the number of private sector employees rose by 56,900, offset by a loss of 21,500 public sector jobs. The number of self-employed fell by 200.

Full-time employment rose by 38,400 jobs, while the number of part-time jobs fell by 3,200.

Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the jobs report will allow the Bank of Canada to breathe easier, as the job market finished 2019 on a solid note following some weakness in October and November.

“This should help ease the Bank of Canada’s concern at least that the labour market wasn’t really breaking down at the end of 2019,” he said.

Kavcic said the job losses in November were a “recession-like” figure, but the other economic data didn’t corroborate the report.

The jobs report is notoriously volatile, but the trend in the second half of last year was softer than the start of the year.

Kavcic said he doesn’t expect to see a return to the job gains seen in the first half of last year after the weakness in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“We’re not going to be getting 30,000 or 40,000 jobs per month like we saw through the first half of 2019, we’re probably going to be looking at more something like 15,000, maybe high teens in terms of monthly job growth,” he said.

The Canadian economy added 320,300 jobs for all of 2019, including 282,800 full-time positions and 37,500 part-time jobs.

Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, said the December employment report confirms the Bank of Canada’s current policy stance that despite headwinds, the economy remains relatively resilient and that further interest rate cuts are unnecessary.

“This assessment can change on a dime in today’s uncertain world, but for now, the central bank is likely to remain on hold,” she said.

The Bank of Canada is set to make its next interest rate decision and release its updated monetary policy report on Jan. 22.

The central bank has kept its key interest rate on hold at 1.75 per cent for more than a year even as many of its international peers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have moved to cut rates and loosen monetary policy in response to weakness in the global economy.

TD Bank senior economist Brian DePratto said the jobs report Friday was consistent with recent comments by Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz. 

“Some aspects of the jobs data, such as wages, have been performing well, while others, such as hours, have not been.

“It seems we’ll have to wait for this month’s monetary policy report to see where the governor and his team land in interpreting these and other recent trends.”

The overall gain in jobs in December came as goods-producing sector added 15,700 jobs, helped by an increase of 17,000 jobs in the construction industry. Meanwhile, the services-producing sector added 19,400 jobs as the accommodation and food services industry gained 24,900 jobs.

Regionally, Ontario and Quebec led the job gains.

Ontario added 25,100 jobs in December, boosted by gains in construction and public administration. Quebec added 21,100 jobs in the month, helped by gains in the accommodation and food services sector as well as manufacturing.

Newfoundland and Labrador lost 5,000 jobs in December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2020.

 

Craig Wong, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said jobs rose in November.



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