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Wages Rebound Amid Modest Job Expansion

Jan 04, 2019

The Conference Board of Canada’s Economist Cory Renner offers the following insights on today’s employment data:


“The data in this morning’s Labour Force Survey was positive. Employment gains were minor following a record breaking November. After weakening significantly over much of the second half of 2018, wage growth accelerated in December. Overall, the labour market data is consistent with our recent forecast, which calls for moderate GDP and employment gains this year.”
—Cory Renner, Economist, The Conference Board of Canada


  • Employment rose 9,300 in December. Full-time jobs declined (-18,900) while part-time jobs rose (+28,300).
  • Some moderation in employment growth was expected this month given that jobs grew by an impressive 94,100 in November, led by full-time positions.
  • The labour force participation rate remained at 65.4 per cent.
  • With only small changes in the labour force and employment, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 per cent.
  • Employment was largely unchanged in most provinces. Ontario saw the largest gain (+17,600), while Alberta saw the largest decline (-16,900). Employment was unchanged in the Atlantic provinces, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba rose a combined 800. Employment in Quebec (+3,700) and British Columbia (+4,400) also increased.
  • Year-over-year average hourly wage growth rose from 1.7 per cent in November to 2 per cent in December.
  • Wage growth has decelerated in each of the last six months, so a reversal of that trend is positive. However, despite the turnaround, annual wage growth remains weak given the tightness in the labour market.
  • Wages improved most in Quebec (from 1.7 per cent in November to 2.5 per cent in December). Meanwhile, wage growth slowed in both Ontario (2.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent) and Alberta (2.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent).
  • Overall, this morning’s labour force data showed modest employment gains and an uptick in wage growth. This is consistent with our latest Canadian Outlook, which calls for moderate gains in employment and GDP this year.

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