Canada Jobless Rate Returns to Four-Decade Low in February

(Bloomberg) -- Canada’s unemployment rate returned to the lowest in four decades in February as hiring posted a modest rebound.

Canada added 15,400 jobs during the month, Statistics Canada reported Friday, close to economist forecasts for a 21,000 gain. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent from 5.9 percent, back to the December level that was the lowest in records back to 1976.

The numbers are consistent with a tight labor market with little slack left after Canada’s strong economic performance last year prompted a hiring boom. While the February gain is below monthly averages over the past year, it’s more in line with what would be considered normal for an economy the size of Canada.

One negative in the report was that the gains in February were driven by part-time employment, which was up 54,700 jobs. Full- time work was down by 39,300. Full-time employment has been responsible for the bulk of the job boom, totaling almost half a million jobs over the past 18 months.

Wage growth, which accelerated to the fastest since 2015 in January, also slowed somewhat but remains still above the average over the past year.

Highlights of February Jobs Report

  • Annual wage gains decelerated to 3.1 percent in February, after reaching 3.3 percent a month earlier. Wage increases for permanent workers also decelerated to 3.1 percent from 3.3 percent
  • Hours worked in February were 3.2 percent higher from a year earlier, which is up from a pace of 2.8 percent in January
  • The gain in February was driven by services-producing industries, particularly health care and education. Manufacturing recorded a drop of 16,500 workers during the month
  • Ontario, which recorded a large drop in employment last month after the province hiked minimum wages, led the increase in February with 15,700 new jobs

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