P.A., Canada gain jobs, Sask. Sees slight drop

StatCan jobs

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a gain of 8,000 positions in January and an increase in the jobless rate to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent in December.

The unemployment rate in the Montreal region was down slightly in January from the month before, falling below the level in Toronto once again.

In contrast, Alberta saw a second straight month of declines, down 16,000 positions, vaulting the unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent. Unemployment in that province increased by 0.4 percentage points.

However, the number of people working also declined as people left the workforce.

Stats Canada reports the economy created 66,800 net new jobs last month. The youth jobless rate edged up to 11.2 per cent, from 11.1 per cent in December as more young people looked for work.

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Year-over-year average hourly wage growth in January for permanent employees was 1.8 per cent, which was up from December's reading of 1.5 per cent, but still well below its May peak of 3.9 per cent.

"Definitely the headline job gain was very impressive", said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

Total hours worked are up 1.2 per cent over the same period, according to StatsCan, compared to 0.9 per cent in December.

"There had been some risk going into the report that a big print was coming, given that the survey had lagged the job gains seen in the more reliable payrolls report over the past year". Canada's employment rate, participation rate and unemployment rate were all higher than that of the United States, adjusting for US-based employment concepts. The details were relatively solid too, with the all of the jobs coming in paid employment and a slight tick up in wage growth despite Ontario's minimum wage increase falling out of the annual calculation.

Mendes predicted that first quarter economic growth is still likely to be "somewhat weak" due to struggles getting oil to new markets due to regulatory delays in building new pipelines.

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