Canada's labour force enjoys temporary spike in jobs, likely election work: Statcan

OTTAWA – Canada’s labour force ballooned by 44,400 net jobs last month thanks to a surge in temporary public-administration work likely generated by the federal election, Statistics Canada says.

The agency’s latest job-market report also said Friday that the increase helped push October’s unemployment rate down one tenth of a percentage point to seven per cent.

The report noted how the reference week for the survey, which registered a gain of 32,000 public-administration jobs, overlapped some of the final days before the Oct. 19 election. The poll was taken between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17.

“The increase was seen across all provinces and mostly in temporary work, and coincided with activities related to the recent federal election,” the agency wrote.

Historically, Statistics Canada’s jobs report has detected similar, temporary spikes in employment during election and census periods.

“But it wasn’t just public administration — it wasn’t just elections,” said Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist for the National Bank.

“The nice thing about this report is that you also saw gains in the private sector. Huge gains in private-sector employment, so that’s encouraging.”

The October data showed the country added 41,300 positions in the private sector and 30,500 public-sector jobs.

The overall net rise in employment last month was higher than economists’ expectations of a 10,000-job increase. It also surpassed the 12,000 positions added in September.

The agency also found that 143,400 more people were working compared with a year ago and that the overall employment number eclipsed 18 million last month for the first time.

“But not everything was rosy,” said Rangasamy, who noted that the report revealed weaknesses in the construction and natural resources sectors.

“So, basically, what that’s telling you is that the economy is still working its way through this oil shock.”

The oil sector has struggled since world crude prices plummeted late last year. Oil prices have remained low, which has hurt the resources industries in some parts of the country.

The October employment data reflected some of those regional differences, Rangasamy added.

Energy-rich Alberta, hit hard by the drop in oil prices, registered a decline in employment, while Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Manitoba added jobs. The other provinces only saw small changes.

The Statistics Canada report also showed that the number of part-time positions in the country soared by 35,400, while full-time jobs crept up by just 9,000.

It also found that the youth unemployment rate fell to 13.3 per cent, down from 13.5 per cent in September. The economy added 14,100 net positions last month for young workers, aged 15 to 24, compared with the month before.

In a note to clients Friday, Leslie Preston of TD Economics wrote that Canada’s labour market has held up well even though real gross domestic product — a common measure of economic growth — contracted over the first two quarters of 2015.

Going forward, however, Preston predicted overall employment gains to slow in the months ahead.

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