Full-Time Jobs Surge in February

11:14am
 
Image Credit The Canadian Press

The Canadian dollar jumped on the news. "Everywhere else, the job market was relatively flat".

The much-stronger-than-expected labor market is the only thing giving policy makers comfort amid a run of bleak data in recent months. For the third consecutive month, Ontario and Quebec drove the overall gains, with little marked movement in the other provinces.

"The ongoing gains in employment suggest that the current soft patch in broader activity is not morphing into something more ominous", BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote to investors.

Employers in Ottawa-Gatineau added 7,300 jobs to their payrolls in February, pushing the region's unemployment rate down one percentage point to 5.1 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Last week, Canada's statistics agency reported the nation's economy grew by just 0.1 percent in the final three months of 2018. Perhaps most encouraging was the second monthly acceleration of wages, which outpaced inflation for the first time in six months. In an economy with more than half a million vacant jobs, many seem to be finding work.

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Canada's employment gains were even stronger than those south of the border. The Canadian dollar strengthened against the US dollar on Friday after Canadian CPI data showed an increase in core inflation. According to the Alberta Government, the increase happened because the labour force increases by 16,900, while employment increased by 3,800.

The labor force increased by 55,100 in February, and is up by 159,000 so far this year.

The addition last month of 67,400 full-time jobs more than offset a loss of 11,600 part-time positions, the data showed. But Statistics Canada reports the economy added nearly 56-thousand net new jobs as more people started looking for work.

Even the wage picture is looking better.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth in February for permanent employees was 2.3 per cent, up from January's reading of 1.8 per cent. Despite the generally positive details of today's report, aggregate hours worked fell for a third straight month, down 0.7% month-on-month.

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