Canadians are tilting ever more toward part-time work.
Job growth in the past year has been virtually all on the part-time side. Full-time work has fallen by 26,700 jobs over the last year while part-time has grown by 112,200 positions.
The split reflects ongoing restraint in the public sector, where governments are cutting back on hours of work, for example among nurses, to rein in costs. It also reflects lingering caution in the private sector. Yet another factor is that some Canadians are moving into part-time work due to choice, not necessity.
The shift partly reflects “softer economic conditions we have seen over the past year,” said Diana Petramala, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. But it’s also likely that “with an aging population, people are choosing fewer hours as they get closer to retirement or the end of their careers. There may be a structural shift.”
All told, Canada created 25,800 jobs last month, Statistics Canada figures show, with the six-month average pegged at a tepid 3,000 new jobs per month. Full-time jobs declined by 29,100 in May, while part-time positions rose by 54,900.
Percentage-wise, full-time positions have fallen by 0.2 per cent in the past year, while part-time is up by 3.4 per cent.
A closer look at why people are moving into part-time positions shows twin trends: 62,000 did so in the past year due to personal preferences, while 50,000 did so because of business conditions. Statscan defines part-time as jobs that are usually less than 30 hours per week.
There’s an even split between men and women taking part-time jobs over the past year, the data show.
The number of hours worked in that time is little changed.
Wage growth has softened. Canada has now seen four straight months of slowing wage growth, with the most recent pace easing to 1.4 per cent, less than the ratee of inflation.
Fewer full-time jobs, along with stagnating real income growth, carry “negative implications for consumer spending,” Ms. Petramala noted.
The country’s jobless rate rose to 7 per cent in May from 6.9 per cent in the prior month as more people searched for work.
“The good news is that more people are working. However, many of them are working fewer hours,” said Kelly Dixon, president of online job-search site Workopolis, noting that many of the job openings on offer are in hospitality.
The public and private sectors added to the headcount last month, while self-employment declined.
Alberta led last month’s jobs gains, while employment fell in Newfoundland and was little changed elsewhere. Saskatchewan still has the country’s lowest jobless rate, at 3.7 per cent.
Deep regional differences in the jobs picture remain. Six in 10 provinces saw employment below year-ago levels in May, noted Robert Kavcic, senior economist at Bank of Montreal.
“It remains the case that the only source of meaningful job growth in Canada is coming from Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said.
In Ontario – home to provincial elections on June 12 – the jobless rate eased a notch to 7.3 per cent, leaving it unchanged from a year earlier. Canada’s most populous province has added 39,400 jobs in the past year, and has now seen five months in a row of job gains, even as manufacturing is near its lowest level on record.
Among sectors, the services side of the economy has led hiring, with growth in transportation, health care and professional services over the past year. Construction, finance and public administration have trimmed headcount.
Canada’s participation rate was unchanged at 66.1 per cent, remaining at the lowest level since 2001.