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By: Alex Carrick on August 14th, 2017

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A Trio of Provinces Shine in an Array of Canadian Labour Market Statistics

Economic News

PEI, BC, and Quebec Show Growth in Canadian Labour Market

On the heels of outstanding month-to-month jobs growth nation-wide in June (+45,000) and May (+55,000), July’s increase was comparatively subdued, at only +11,000 according to the latest Labour Force Survey report published by Statistics Canada.

2017-14-Canada-Labor-Graphic

An especially sweet note for Canada in July, however, was provided by the national unemployment rate which dipped from 6.5% the month before to a current level of 6.3%, reducing it to its best reading since October 2008 (6.2%).

At its lowest in this century – i.e., 5.8% in October 2007 – the jobless rate was only half a percentage point better than now.

Canada’s average monthly jobs increase through the first seven months of this year has been +28,000, well ahead of 2016’s January-to-July average gain of +5,000.

July’s +11,000 lift in total jobs resulted from a hefty expansion in full-time work, +35,000, that was largely offset by a substantial contraction in part-time positions, -24,000.

Hiring by the private sector (+10,000) was notably more aggressive than by the public sector (+1,000) in the latest month.

Canadian manufacturers (+14,000) made a solid addition to their payrolls in July, while contractors (-9,000) cut staffing.

Year-over-year employment in manufacturing (+3.2%) is now speeding ahead of construction (+1.9%).  

With respect to year-over-year percentage changes relative to the U.S., Canada now has the lead in three out of four major employment categories: total jobs (+2.1% for Canada versus +1.5% for the U.S.); services-providing jobs (+2.2% vs +1.7%); and manufacturing (+3.2% vs. +0.5%). But in construction, Canada’s +1.9% y/y is trailing America’s +2.8%.

Canadian Province Labour Market Statistics

Currently, there are five provinces with year-over-year gains in services-providing jobs that exceed the +2.2% national average: Prince Edward Island (PEI), +3.8%; British Columbia (BC), +3.0%; Quebec, +2.9%; Manitoba +2.5%; and Ontario, +2.4%.

In the manufacturing sector, six provinces have managed y/y percentage increases above the +3.2% national average: Saskatchewan, +15.0%; Nova Scotia (NS), +13.1%; New Brunswick (NB), +7.9%; BC, +7.1%; Alberta, +6.9%; and PEI, +6.7%.

Most of the foregoing provinces have relatively small manufacturing bases. Ontario and Quebec provide the bulk of the nation’s production-line work, and those two provinces have recorded y/y increases of +1.6% and +1.5% respectively.

In construction, there are six provinces with y/y jobs gains on a par with or above the +1.9% Canada-wide figure: PEI, +10.4%; BC, +9.4%; Quebec, +4.7%; NB, +4.5%; Saskatchewan, +2.4%; and Manitoba, +1.9%.

There are only two provinces with job creation performances superior to the national averages for services, manufacturing and construction − PEI and BC. With just a bit better record in manufacturing, Manitoba (+3.0%) would have turned the duo into a trio.

Where Manitoba has shone this year, relative to its siblings, has been in housing starts. The province’s +94% year-to-date leap in residential groundbreakings has far outdistanced the +8% for the country as a whole.

Table 1: Canadian Provincial Labour Markets - July 2017
       Unemployment rate            Employment (000s)
Province Jul 2016 Jul 2017     Jul 2016 Jul 2017 Net % change
                 
Newfoundland and Labrador 12.9% 15.7%   231.5 219.0 -12.5 -5.4%
Prince Edward Island 9.7% 10.0%   71.4 73.5 2.1 2.9%
Nova Scotia 8.3% 7.9%   445.4 450.2 4.8 1.1%
New Brunswick 9.6% 6.5%   354.9 352.4 -2.5 -0.7%
Québec 7.0% 5.8%   4,113.7 4,238.0 124.3 3.0%
Ontario 6.5% 6.1%   6,968.4 7,106.3 137.9 2.0%
Manitoba 6.3% 5.0%   635.7 649.1 13.4 2.1%
Saskatchewan 6.3% 6.6%   569.4 568.0 -1.4 -0.2%
Alberta 8.6% 7.8%   2,249.7 2,284.2 34.5 1.5%
British Columbia 5.6% 5.3%   2,394.2 2,481.2 87.0 3.6%
Canada 7.0% 6.3%   18,034.3 18,421.9 387.6 2.1%
Data source (seasonally adjusted figures): Statistics Canada / Table: ConstructConnect.

Also, note from Table 1 that Manitoba (at 5.0%) currently has the lowest unemployment rate among all the provinces, with second place belonging to BC (5.3%).

Besides the benefits to society at large (i.e., through promoting a more content populace), the economic point of wanting a low unemployment rate and strong jobs growth is that they are almost always accompanied by higher earnings and more spending.

The following bullet points record the y/y results for both average weekly earnings (from the latest Payroll Employment, Earnings and Hours report) and retail sales (from Statistics Canada’s Cansim Table 080-0020) for each province. The percentage changes are based on ‘current’ (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) dollars:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.7% y/y for weekly earnings and 0.0% y/y for retail sales);
  • PEI (+0.8% and +5.5%);
  • NS (+2.2% and +5.0%);
  • NB (+0.7% and +7.9%);
  • Quebec (+2.4% and +4.6%);
  • Ontario (+1.6% and +8.1%);
  • Manitoba (+3.1% and +6.2%);
  • Saskatchewan (+2.0% and +4.7%);
  • Alberta (+1.7% and +9.0%);
  • BC (+2.5% and +9.9%).

To provide perspective, the Canada-wide percentage changes have been +2.0% for weekly earnings and +7.3% for retail sales.

Only one province is currently beating the national averages on both counts – BC.