OTTAWA – The economy gained 44,000 jobs last month — fuelled entirely by part-time employment, which offset a loss in full-time positions — Statistics Canada said Friday, raising concerns that Canadians are having trouble securing gainful work.
The result is further evidence that Canada is struggling to create “quality, high-paying jobs,” said David Madani, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.
“Even though headline employment is rising, overall income growth still appears to be slowing sharply,” Madani wrote in a note to clients.
The overall increase in employment was driven by 67,000 additional part-time positions for the month, while the number of full-time jobs fell by 23,000. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.0 per cent as more people entered the labour market, looking for work.
Economists had expected a loss of 10,000 jobs overall and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged, according to Thomson Reuters.
The increase in October follows an addition of some 67,000 jobs the previous month, which saw gains in both part-time and full-time work. There were also 26,000 jobs added to the economy in August.
CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld said the last two months showed big gains in total employment, but he expected a pullback this month.
“So eking out some gains was, all things considered, not a bad result,” he said. “This was still much better than the consensus would have estimated, even if the details are unimpressive.”
However, Shenfeld noted that while Canadians are finding work, it’s not at a pace, especially for full-time jobs, that will generate a lot of income growth.
“Therefore we can’t expect consumer spending to be the driver of the economy. We really need to do better on exports and this month’s figures were not impressive,” he said.
The Canadian economy has struggled, with weakness in the price of oil earlier this year and the wildfires in Alberta that shut down production in the oilsands. Compared with a year ago, there were 140,000 more jobs in October, including nearly 16,000 full-time and 124,000 part-time positions.
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose placed the blame on the Liberal government.
“Justin Trudeau must stop raising taxes so that Canadians can invest in their families and businesses, which will directly result in new business opportunities and more high-quality, well-paying jobs,” Ambrose said.
The Liberals outlined a plan earlier this week to boost the economy with the help of a new infrastructure bank they plan to launch.
Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Ottawa is making the necessary investments to help ensure that Canadians have access to good, well-paying jobs.
“These include new and innovative investments in infrastructure, a renewed focus on attracting investment, a strong commitment to creating global partnerships, and more openness and transparency in the way government operates,” Duclos said.
In October, there were 21,000 more jobs in the goods-producing sector last month, boosted by a gain of 24,000 positions in the construction industry, which offset losses elsewhere. The natural resources sector also added 10,000 jobs, its first notable increase since March 2015.
Jobs were also added in other sectors, including wholesale and retail trade.
Ontario saw a 25,000 boost in jobs, while British Columbia increased by 15,000. The number of jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador fell by 5,600.
Statistics Canada also reported Friday that Canada’s trade deficit hit a record $4.1 billion in September due to the import from South Korea of a module for the Hebron offshore oil project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Economists had expected a deficit of $1.7 billion for September.
Imports rose 4.7 per cent to a record $47.6 billion in the month as import prices grew by 2.4 per cent and volumes increased 2.3 per cent.
Exports climbed 0.1 per cent to $43.5 billion as a 0.9 per cent increase in prices was offset by a 0.8 per cent decrease in volumes.