Canada Posts Biggest Job Decline Since 2009

Ontario shed some 59,300 part-time jobs in January, the same month the province hiked minimum wage about 20 per cent to $14 an hour - but experts say it may be too soon to know how much the two are correlated.

The overall number was dragged down by a loss of 137,000 part-time positions in what was easily the category's largest one-month collapse since the agency started gathering the data in 1976.

In the Labour Force Survey for January 2018, Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy saw 88,000 jobs lost during the month, an abrupt halt to the "stellar performance" that saw 2017 produce the biggest increase in jobs since 2002.

Ontario's mandatory minimum hourly rate is set for another bump in January 2019, when it will rise to $15.

Even with the overall decline in January, Canada has been on a strong run of job creation that has seen the country add 414,100 full-time jobs over a 12-month period. It remained at 5.5% in January, despite the loss of 51,000 jobs, mostly part-time positions.

Alberta's unemployment rate was at 7 per cent, unchanged from December 2017. Most of the other provinces also shouldered part-time losses, with Quebec shedding 31,000 positions.

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"A mysterious mix of good and bad, with the latter's impact blunted by how strong job gains were in the lead up to these figures", Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note to investors.

The largest employment declines were in Ontario and Quebec. The country's average hourly rate climbed 3.3 per cent to $26.83 over January of past year, the first time since March, 2016, that wages grew faster than 3 per cent. "However, it does bring the job market back down to Earth", said Porter in online release.

It wasn't just Ontario that saw wage growth of more than 3 per cent. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia recorded increases over that level, with the westernmost province's wages rising almost 4 per cent.

The Dow ended with a 330.44 point or 1.38 per cent gain to 24,190.90, in the wake of Thursday's session that ended with a steep drop marking a 10 per cent decline from the market's peak in January.

The report is a long-waited correction in a tightening labor market that is more consistent with an economy that has been slowing down since the second half of previous year. "At the very least, we can dismiss any chance the bank hikes in March, and April is now looking more like a long shot as well", he said.

  • Rita Burton