Canadian employers have gone on a one-month hiring spree of almost record proportions, though the torrid pace is unlikely to last.
Employment numbers are notoriously bumpy, and a monthly reading needs to be taken in that context. But the scale of hiring in May reflects resilience in the labour market and comes as several other indicators – business sentiment, building permits and the broader economy – are firming.
A surprising 95,000 jobs were created last month, marking the biggest gain in almost 11 years and just shy of the record 95,100 of August, 2002. The surge pushed the unemployment rate down a notch to 7.1 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Even though such month-to-month numbers can be volatile, the economy still likely created at least 38,000 jobs even when standard errors from the survey are taken into account.
That means, said economist Emanuella Enenajor of CIBC World Markets, that May "was either a good month for hiring or a great month for hiring."
Sturdy demand is giving firms such SAS Canada confidence to hire in cities like Toronto and Calgary. The business analytics software firm plans to boost head count by 11 per cent this year, to 340 workers, amid growing appetite for big data analysis.
"Over all, I would say the economy is moving in the right direction," said president Carl Farrell.
A good chunk of those new hires are recent graduates who don't necessarily have past work experience. "I see so much potential in that segment," he said.
While employers have created a quarter of a million jobs in the past year, the jobless rate is still one percentage point above pre-recession levels.