Jobless Rate Down, Labour Participation Rate Up In Windsor

By Doug Collins  The Canadian Press

The number of jobs in Canada fell by 88,000 in January, ending the economy's 17-month streak of job gains, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The area's unemployment rate remained unchanged however, at 6.8 per cent, because the number of people working or seeking work also fell last month. That was enough to hike the unemployment rate to 5.9%.

The drop reflected a record loss of 137,000 part-time jobs, and a 49,000 gain in full-time work.

The unemployment rate edged up to 5.9 per cent from December's revised 5.8 per cent.

"This is a big number on the surface, but so were the gains over the previous several months", Marple wrote in a research note.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the December result was stronger than expected. A strong labour market, like the one Canada has seen in recent months, generally invites more people to rejoin the labour force and apply for jobs.

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It wasn't just Ontario that saw wage growth of more than 3 per cent. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia recorded increases over that level, with the westernmost province's wages rising almost 4 per cent.

January's job losses lowered expectations that the Bank of Canada would hike interest rates at its next rate announcement scheduled for March. "But the details are also looking wonky, with all of the job losses in part-time work".

A closer look at the January data showed the number of paid employee positions also experienced a significant loss last month by shedding 112,000 positions.

Victoria saw an unemployment increase for the second consecutive month at 3.9 per cent from 3.5.

Wage growth also received a boost in January, a month that saw Ontario lift its minimum wage. They'll scrutinize incoming data over the next few months to get a better sense of the kind of impact Ontario's minimum-wage increase could have on the provincial job market.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter noted it was the first setback for jobs in Canada's job market in 16 months and Ontario was especially hard hit.

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