Labour markets held steady in October, following two months of significant gains. The economy added only 1,800 jobs, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.4 per cent. There was a small shift from part-time work to full-time employment.
The private sector shed 20,300 jobs while the public sector added 36,900 jobs. Most of the gains were in educational services, with public administration and health care and social assistance also posting significant increases. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry experienced the steepest losses, with the accommodation and food services industry a close second. Among the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador led the way in terms of job growth, as its unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 11.9 per cent. (Still, that level remains the highest in the country.) Quebec was the only other province to see its unemployment rate drop as a result of job gains. There were job losses in Manitoba and British Columbia, while the remaining provinces saw little change.
On a demographic level, there were no significant changes among the major groups. Youth employment was little changed, as was employment in the 25–54 age group. However, there was a slight shift from male employment to female employment.
The economy added only 1,800 jobs, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.4 per cent.
The Canadian economy stagnated in August, shrinking 0.1 per cent—the first contraction since February. Declines were widespread among goods-producing industries, as they struggled to find a foothold amid easing global demand and softer domestic conditions. Mining and oil extraction were particularly hard hit, though much of their decline was due to scheduled maintenance at metal ore mines and oilfields. Potash mining also dropped, offsetting gains in natural gas production. The mining and oil and gas extraction sector is struggling to make gains this year. While natural resources helped prop up the economy in 2010 and 2011, the mining industry has struggled this year with lower global demand, falling prices, and tight credit conditions. Mining wasn’t the only industry to feel the pain of depressed demand. Most of July’s manufacturing gains were wiped out in August. Primary and fabricated metal products decreased, as did furniture and electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing. Production was also down in the construction and utilities industries in August.
Meanwhile, output from the services industries as a whole did not change. Led by food products and machinery, wholesale trade increased, while retail trade was pushed lower by a reduction of activity at motor vehicles and parts dealers. Transportation and warehousing output increased, but finance, insurance, and real estate decreased for the first time in 11 months. A weaker housing sector and decreased output by security brokerages were responsible for the decline.
The Canadian economy stagnated in August, shrinking 0.1 per cent—the first contraction since February.
On October 23, the Bank of Canada announced it would hold the target for its key overnight interest rate at 1 per cent. The announcement marked the 25th consecutive month in which rates have not changed. The Bank doesn’t expect the economy to return to full capacity until the end of 2013.
The Bank did hint for this first time that it could use monetary policy to stem the rise in household debt levels in the future. This would be a major departure from its generally strict rule of focusing its monetary policies on inflation alone. Such action might not be needed, however, as debt levels could moderate without the intervention of the central bank. A combination of factors will slow the housing market in the near term. The return of tighter restrictions on mortgages, overheated multiple unit starts in key markets in the first half of 2012, and slower employment and economic growth going forward will all contribute to a slowdown in housing market activity. The Conference Board’s latest Canadian forecast expects housing starts for both single and multiple units to post declines for the second half of 2012. Housing starts for multiple units will continue to decline throughout 2013. To date, new housing prices have held up in almost all markets across the country, with the exception of some markets in British Columbia and the Maritimes.