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Part-time Hiring Drives Canadian Employment Unexpectedly Higher in October

Nov 04, 2016

The Conference Board of Canada’s Chief Economist Craig Alexander offers the following perspectives on the release of the Labour Force Survey.


The Canadian economy delivered surprisingly strong job growth in October, but the quality of the new positions and the unchanged unemployment rate still shows a labour market with a lot of untapped potential.
—Craig Alexander, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • After a surprisingly large gain in September, Canadian job creation surprised again in October. However, the details were far less impressive than the headlines. The net new jobs were in part-time positions and were concentrated in positions for youth. These jobs typically have lower pay and fewer benefits. Today’s report is unlikely to change the assessment of the Bank of Canada that the economy still needs large monetary stimulus, and it will do little to ease market speculation that the Bank has an easing bias. Indeed, with the unemployment rate remaining at 7.0 per cent, it is evident that Canada has considerable labour market slack.
  • Employment jumped higher by 43,900 jobs in October in contrast with market expectations for a loss of 15,000 positions. This builds on a whopping increase of 67,000 positions in September and breaks the typical see-saw pattern in the monthly data that typically follows a huge gain.
  • The glass half full view of the release is the fact that the job creation was in 67,100 part-time positions (particularly for youth) that more than offset a 23,100 decline in full-time employment. The unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 7.0 per cent.
  • From a sectoral perspective, there were 34,000 net new positions in the private sector and 9,800 positions in the public sector. The new jobs were split fairly evenly between goods-producing industries (+20,700) and services-producing firms (+23,400). Construction and natural resources posted the strongest gains in the goods sectors. Retail/wholesale trade, education and the catch-all category of ‘other services’ hired the most in the services areas.
  • Provincially, Ontario and B.C. stood out in terms of employment growth. It is worth highlighting, however, that employment in Alberta rose by 9,000 jobs and the province’s unemployment rate was stable at 8.5 per cent, suggesting that the Alberta economy is slowly adjusting to the sustained lower energy price environment. In contrast, Newfoundland and Labrador had a bad month, losing 5,600 jobs in October that drove the unemployment rate up to 14.9 per cent. 


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