Part-time work is fuelling Canada’s job growth this year, a discouraging trend for a country still desperately trying to recover from the oil slump.
For the second consecutive month, the creation of part-time work outpaced full-time hours, leading to an unexpected net gain of 11,000 new jobs in November.
“Plenty of jobs in the offing, but not the kind of work we’d like to see,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist with CIBC, said in a research note.
Over the past year, Canada has added 213,000 part-time jobs and eliminated 30,500 full-time positions, according to Statistics Canada’s monthly labour report released on Friday.
Brian DePratto, economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank, called the shift discouraging but not surprising. “The labour market appears to be evolving in line with an overall economy that continues to struggle to find traction,” he said in a research note.
The jobs report continued to show the diverging fortunes of oil-producing Alberta and non-resource-dependent provinces. Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia accounted for all the full-time job growth over the year.
Meanwhile, Alberta has been responsible for most of the full-time job losses. In the 12 months to November, the province eliminated a staggering 74,000 full-time positions.
Last month’s losses reversed some of the gains made over the fall. Alberta’s unemployment rate shot up 0.5 percentage points to 9 per cent, its highest level since 1994.
On the flip side, Quebec has proven to be one of the strongest job creators this year. Its unemployment rate fell to 6.2 per cent, the province’s lowest rate since record-keeping started in 1976 and the second-lowest jobless rate in the country after British Columbia. Quebec has added 81,000 jobs over the year and its finance minister told reporters that the government’s rigour in keeping public finances under control has boosted overall confidence.
But the country’s strongest economy, British Columbia, shed 9,300 positions, marking another drop since September. The decline comes after the provincial government imposed a tax on foreign housing buyers in an attempt to thwart real-estate speculators and cool the housing market. Although the tax has curbed housing sales, it is unknown whether the slowdown was responsible for the job losses or if it would lead to further labour-market deterioration.
“We are going to find out how much of what was going on in B.C. was really just linked to what was going on in the housing market,” said David Watt, chief economist with HSBC Bank Canada. “If the housing market comes off the boil and it looks like it has, the job market is going to come off the boil. We will see if there was underlying economic vigour or just the housing bubble playing out.”
Across the country, employment increased by 31,200 jobs in the services-producing sector and dropped by 20,600 positions in the goods-producing sector. The construction, manufacturing and transportation industries suffered the biggest declines last month.
The national jobless rate eased to 6.8 per cent from 7 per cent. November’s labour report comes ahead of next week’s interest-rate announcement, where the Bank of Canada is expected to keep rates at rock-bottom lows.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs and the country’s unemployment rate hit a nine-year low of 4.6 per cent, raising expectations once again for a U.S. rate hike.
With a report from Nicolas Van Praet in MontrealReport Typo/Error