OTTAWA – The overall drop in Canada’s job market last month was so small it fell within the survey’s rounding error, but experts remained optimistic Friday about the country’s labour prospects for the future.
Statistics Canada’s latest batch of monthly data showed the economy shed 10,700 net jobs last month and nudged the unemployment rate up slightly to 6.6 per cent.
RBC’s assistant chief economist Paul Ferley said the bank smoothes out the monthly data’s volatility by taking averages over a number of months.
In that respect, November’s numbers appeared “a little bit disappointing,” but looking over the longer term Canada’s labour force has seen “a respectable increase,” Ferley said.
Over the last 12 months, the Statistics Canada’s survey found there were 146,000 net new jobs across the country.
November’s data followed healthy back-to-back employment increases of 43,100 jobs in October and 74,100 in September. The October rise had dropped the unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent, it’s lowest level since November 2008.
National Bank senior economist Krishen Rangasamy said with the help of the September and October gains, Canada has seen an acceptable improvement.
“Overall it’s not stellar because it’s way below what we used to have before the recession, but we’re creating jobs,” Rangasamy said.
He predicts better days are coming for Canada, particularly as the U.S. economy builds momentum.
On Friday, fresh data showed strong employment growth in the U.S. economy, which added 321,000 jobs last month.
“The U.S. economy is on an up trend and of course we’re going to see the benefits on the trade side,” he said.
“In our view, job creation will pick up next year in line with a stronger Canadian economy.”
The Canadian job market lost 45,600 private-sector jobs last month and added 22,600 positions in the public sector. Meanwhile, the number of self-employed workers moved up by 12,300 jobs.
By industry, retail and wholesale trade lost 41,600 jobs in November, while there were 32,900 fewer positions in professional, scientific and technical services. But even with these declines, both sectors had changed little over the past year.
The youth unemployment rate for November increased by 0.4 percentage points to 13 per cent, but the survey found 56,400 more young people were working compared to the year before.
Provincially, Ontario dropped 33,900 net jobs in November, which pushed its unemployment rate up half a percentage point to seven per cent.
The biggest provincial gain was detected in Quebec, where 19,600 net new jobs were added last month.
The marginal November rise in the unemployment rate matched projections of economists, who had also expected the economy to add 5,000 jobs, according to Thomson Reuters.
“The November jobs report saw the Canadian economy giving back some of the past months’ gains,” Brian DePratto of TD Economics wrote Friday in a note to clients.
“It should be cautioned though, that one month doesn’t make a trend.”
He pointed out that Canada saw significant gains in full-time employment in recent months, rising by 101,500 jobs between August and November.
DePratto said TD expects to see “continued modest trend employment growth” down the road, thanks to expectations the Canadian dollar will stay relatively low and help from the improving U.S. economy.
The November job decline ended a two-month string — September and October — of employment gains.
The consecutive autumn increases marked the first stretch since December 2012 that the agency’s see-saw jobs survey results recorded two straight months of employment growth, outside the margin of error.
On Friday, Statistics Canada also released data on Canadian international merchandise trade for October.
The agency found that merchandise imports increased by 0.5 per cent to $44.8 billion, while exports crept up by 0.1 per cent to $44.9 billion. Canada’s trade surplus with the world narrowed from $307 million to $99 million between September and October.
Statistics Canada also produced third-quarter data for labour productivity of Canadian businesses, which it said moved up 0.1 per cent after recording a two per cent rise in the second quarter.
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