Canada’s job numbers make history with biggest gain on record

Andrew Cummings
May 13, 2019

The Canadian economy added 106,500 jobs in April, the biggest monthly gain on record, led by employment increases in the two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday.

Statistics Canada's monthly labour force survey showed that employment surged by 107,000 jobs in the month, the biggest figure since the statistical agency began using comparable methodology in 1976.

Desjardins senior economist Helene Begin said in a report that almost 80 per cent of the overall gain was concentrated in Ontario, which added 47,100 jobs in April, and in Quebec, which saw its jobless rate fall to 4.9 per cent for its lowest level since the survey's creation in 1976.

For months, the labour market had been the lone bright spot in a struggling economy, and was the only thing giving policy makers much comfort. That trounced the median economist forecast for a gain of 12,000 positions.

That shift in rate expectations also influenced activity in the Canadian dollar, which traded late in the day at 74.53 United States cents, up one-third of a penny on the day.

The Bank of Canada already knew that labour markets were looking solid when they moved sharply to the sidelines in terms of future interest rate hikes over the last few months. It was largely due to a drop in oil prices, instability in housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver, and uncertainties around global trade.

The national unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent. There are also signs consumers continue to spend and borrow, aided in large part by the strong labour market, even amid worries about the outlook.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 426,000 (2.3%), with gains in both full-time (248,000) and part-time (179,000) work, states the Stats Canada report.

The economy added 39,700 goods-producing sector jobs, mostly in construction, and gained 66,900 services-sector jobs, mostly in wholesale and retail trade.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth for all employees in April was 2.5 per cent, up from a reading of 2.4 per cent in March. A separate measure of gainful employment added 0.6 percent, the highest such jump since 1994. The number of people in the labour force jumped by 108,100 in April, also a one-month record.

The central bank has raised rates five times since July 2017.

Employment had increased in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and Prince Edward Island, while a decline in New Brunswick was observed.

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