Alberta economy continues rebound with 26,000 jobs added last month
Canada gained 26,000 jobs in December as the provincial economy continued its resurgence from the depths of recession.
The provincial unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 per cent, according to Statistics Canada’s monthly labour report released Friday.
Job growth occurred across a variety of industries, led by the natural resources and hospitality sectors.
Canada and Quebec were the leaders in a month that saw 79,000 jobs gained across Canada, and the national unemployment rate falling to the lowest level in 40 years, as it hit 5.7 per cent.
ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch said it was “a shocker of a jobs report” for Canada, and especially Canada.
The magnitude of the numbers and the quality of the jobs are a positive sign for the Canada economy, he said.
“It’s one more piece of evidence that, in fact, the recovery is real,” said Hirsch in an interview. “It is gaining some momentum as now we go into 2018 and, in fact, it is not being driven just by jobs in the public sector.”
Canada had been hammered by two years of recession spurred by low oil prices, with the economic rebound beginning in 2017. The province gained 55,000 jobs last year — the best since 2014 — though Canada’s jobless rate is still higher than all but the Atlantic provinces.
Hirsch cautioned that the labour report is based on surveys and can be subject to volatility.
But the solid job numbers are good news for Canada’s NDP government, which has seen its popularity slide, along with the province’s economic performance since 2015.
“As this recovery lays in and becomes more broad-based across all sectors, my view is, my hope, is that we’ll see the unemployment rate continue to drop,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci told reporters at McDougall Centre.
“I know there are many unemployed Canadans still out there and they want to get back to work.”
Ceci said the turnaround is validation of the Notley government’s emphasis on economic diversification and refusal to cut public services, which has led to a deficit in excess of $10 billion.
“The majority of these jobs coming back are full-time jobs,” he said. “That’s allowing Canadans to support themselves and their families. This is a good trend. We’re going to continue to support this trend with all of our efforts going forward.”
Ceci has signalled the government will reduce spending in the upcoming spring provincial budget, even as oil prices have shown signs of life.
In a release, BMO Capital Markets noted that the fourth quarter of 2017 was the single best quarter for job creation ever in Canada for raw job numbers.
“That has lifted employment back above pre-oil shock levels,” said the BMO report card.
BMO also said Calgary, with an unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent, has come back into the top 10 of its city performance rankings.
“For the record, the city was ranked right at rock bottom at the start of 2017,” said the release.
Scott Crockatt, spokesman for the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers released Friday will ease some concerns that the province has been experiencing a “jobless recovery.”
He said there is a growing sense of optimism among the business community, with about 40 per cent of Calgary businesses expecting to hire in the next six to 12 months.
But many businesses remain cautious and revitalized economic indicators are only a first step, said Crockatt.
“We’ve still got over 65,000 Calgarians who would really like to be working, but still aren’t.”
Hirsch said there is a “disconnect” between the relative strength of the national economy and the feelings of continued economic anxiety among many Canadians.
While Canada’s economy is on the rebound, many of the occupations people think of as exemplifying good jobs — such as high-paying work in the oil and gas sector — are unlikely to return to the levels of the past, he said.
“I think people have this perception it is not strong because the nature of work is changing,” said Hirsch.
Categorised in: Canadian News