Canada Unemployment Hits Lowest Since July on Full-Time Jobs

Canada’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell in June to the lowest in a year as full-time work increased and people left the workforce.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in May from 7.1 percent in April, Statistics Canada said Friday from Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted the rate would rise to 7.2 percent. Employers added 60,500 full-time jobs, and the closest comparable gain was in September 2014.

It’s the first major report detailing the fallout from the Alberta wildfires that took as much as 1.1 million barrels of daily oil production offline last month and forced 80,000 people to evacuate Fort McMurray. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said the fires are a short-term setback that may cause output to shrink in the second quarter before rebounding.

“There is going to be a weak spot in the second quarter because of the wildfires,” said Craig Wright, chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada. Gains in full-time work and a rise in factory jobs, however, show “the Canadian economy is plodding along.”

Canada’s overall job gain overcame the weakness in Alberta, where the unemployment rate rose to 7.8 percent from 7.2 percent as employment fell by 24,100. The number of hours worked fell

5.1 percent, the most in 30 years. Natural resource jobs in the province fell by about 12,000, or by 8.2 percent.

Census Boost

Nationally, employment rose by 19,400 in public administration, boosted in part by workers the government hired to conduct a census, Statistics Canada said. Manufacturing employment rose by 12,200 and construction by 18,600.

Canada’s dollar strengthened by as much as 0.4 percent after the data was released before trading little changed at C$1.2721 per U.S. dollar at 9:53 a.m.

Friday’s jobs data was stronger than the June 3 U.S. payroll report for May, which showed the smallest job gain in almost six years.

Canadian employers cut part-time jobs by 46,800, leaving a net gain of 13,800 positions. Economists had forecast a slender increase of 1,750 jobs.

Quebec’s unemployment rate was the lowest since 2008 in May, falling to 7.1 percent from 7.5 percent.

Another reason Canada’s jobless rate declined was because 22,900 people left the labor force in May.

“Scrubbing out all of the mixed details in this report likely leaves it as a wash for the Canadian economy,” Robert Kavcic, a Bank of Montreal senior economist in Toronto, wrote in a research note.

(Updates with economist comment in fourth paragraph.)

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