Economy

Ontario leads Canada in job growth for February

Ontario leads Canada in job growth for February

National employment in this industry rose by 6.8% year over year, up by 97,000 jobs.

Employment in Canada rose by approximately 55,900 in February from January as an increase in full-time employment offset a decrease in part-time jobs, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by Statistics Canada.

The jobs mix was generally good, with full-time employment firmly in the driver's seat (+67.4k).

The gain was largely due to the service sectors (+46.2k), with notable strength in professional services (+18.3k) and retail/wholesale trade (+12.1k).

The remaining provinces follow up with Alberta at 7.2%, Saskatchewan with 5.8%, Ontario at 5.7%, Quebec and Manitoba both at 5.3%, and BC looking the best at 4.5%. For the third consecutive month, Ontario and Quebec drove the overall gains, with little marked movement in the other provinces.

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The much-stronger-than-expected labor market is the only thing giving policy makers comfort amid a run of bleak data in recent months. Annual average hourly gains accelerated to 2.3 percent in February from 2 percent a month earlier, with pay for permanent employees up 2.2 percent, from 1.8 percent previously. The year/year pace of gains was a solid 2% in February. The weak economic data that closed out 2018, and weak momentum heading into this year has not yet had any impact on labour markets. Most economists expect the sluggishness to persist in the first six months of this year, before growth picks up steam later in 2019.

By region, Ontario saw the biggest employment increase last month with the addition of 36,900 jobs.

If wages were the concern through previous year, hours worked may be the new candidate. The Canadian dollar jumped on the news. This is something to watch, particularly given the implications for economic output.

Scotiabank's Derek Holt, Head of Capital Markets Economics, thinks job creation and wage growth will get the Bank of Canada's attention.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada acknowledged it was surprised by the extent of the weakness in last week's report.