Canada’s ever-volatile labour report posts ‘messy’ results for August

Fuelled by the loss of 92,000 part-time positions, August largely eliminated July’s healthy increase

Canada’s seesawing employment report posted particularly volatile numbers last month that showed big, mid-summer gains had essentially been wiped out by August.

The economy lost 51,600 net jobs last month in a decrease that helped drive the national unemployment rate to six per cent, up from 5.8 per cent in July, Statistics Canada reported Friday in its monthly labour force survey.

Last month’s drop, fuelled by the loss of 92,000 part-time positions, largely eliminated July’s healthy net increase of 54,100 positions.

However, August also featured a notable bright spot: full-time jobs rose by 40,400.

“A little bit of a mixed bag, but definitely not quite as bad as the headline would suggest,” TD senior economist Brian DePratto said of the August jobs report.

“Another messy one, to be frank… It’s always a noisy report, but it seems like the last few months have been particularly noisy.”

A closer look at the August data revealed even more turbulence in the month-to-month numbers.

Ontario lost 80,100 jobs last month after gaining 60,600 in July — with both data points almost entirely driven by swings in part time work.

The August decrease, a drop of 1.1 per cent, was by far the biggest decline among the provinces. It helped bump Ontario’s unemployment rate up to 5.7 per cent, from 5.4 per cent.

DePratto said it’s difficult to determine the cause of July’s ”odd, significant spike” in Canada’s most-populous province.

Some commentary, he noted, had connected the jump to a summertime hiring boost in the university sector that many expected would recede in the subsequent months.

But DePratto said the August drop didn’t reflect any significant reversals from earlier increases because the losses were concentrated in areas like construction and professional, scientific and technical services.

“Unfortunately, by and large, it looks like statistical noise,” he said.

Royce Mendes, director and senior economist for CIBC Capital Markets, summed up the jobs report in a research note to clients as “Now you see them, now you don’t.”

He described the Statistics Canada employment report as “always volatile and at times implausible”.

“While you can’t put too much faith in any one reading from the (labour force survey), there’s certainly nothing in the report to suggest that the economy is racing ahead,” Mendes wrote.

Mendes doesn’t expect the results to be enough to prevent the Bank of Canada from raising its benchmark interest rate in October, although if the economy remains in a “lower gear” he believes governor Stephen Poloz will need to follow a more-gradual, rate-hiking approach thereafter.

The central bank will also pay close attention to more signs Friday that wages are softening in Canada despite the tightened labour market.

The report showed that average hourly wage growth, which is closely watched by the Bank of Canada ahead of rate decisions, continued its gradual slide last month to 2.9 per cent after expanding 3.2 per cent in July and 3.6 per cent in June.

Compared with 12 months earlier, Canada’s overall employment was still up 0.9 per cent following the addition of 171,700 jobs, including 326,100 full-time positions.

In August, the data also show the economy lost 38,000 public-sector employee jobs last month, while the private sector shed 30,700 positions.

By industry, the goods-producing sector lost 30,400 jobs last month in a decline led by notable losses of 16,400 positions in construction and a drop of 9,200 in manufacturing.

The services sector shed 21,200 jobs in August after shedding 22,100 positions in professional, scientific and technical services.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Kootenay region posts 10-per-cent return rate on electoral reform ballots

As of Nov. 13, only 5.3 per cent of ballots had been returned province-wide

Nakusp Secondary School hosts day of remembrance

Event honoured Indigenous contributions to Canada’s war efforts

Remembering a century at the Nakusp Cenotaph

Nakusp joined the rest of Canada in honouring 100 years since the end of the First World War

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read