Canada pounds expectations with Sept. job gains
'Jaws dropped' when numbers released, Scotia Capital trader says
Last Updated: Friday, October 10, 2008 | 9:27 AM ET Comments264Recommend70
They might have been mostly part-time — but Canada produced more than 100,000 new jobs in September, almost 10 times better than economists expected, according to figures released by Statistics Canada Friday.
Canada's economy gained 107,000 jobs in September as the unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 per cent, the national statistical agency said.
In advance of Tuesday's federal election, many analysts were expecting just a modest pickup, in the 12,500 range.
"Canadian employment rose by a record 106,900 in September …defying not only conventional wisdom but gravity as well," said Doug Porter, an economist with BMO Capital Markets in an afternoon note.
Of those new jobs, more than 90 per cent of the gain were people securing part-time work. But even the 10,000 full-time payroll additions was a good showing, Porter said.
Future is now
Canada's decent job market might be a sign that the country has some economic legs despite the worldwide financial meltdown.
On Wednesday, electronics retailer Future Shop Ltd. said it planned to hire 6,000 seasonal workers to man its stores for the Christmas rush.
"We feel very confident about the season," said John Benjamin, senior regional management recruiter for Future Shop.
Canada's unemployment rate stayed steady on the month because of an increase in the number of people looking for work, up 113,000.
Better than the U.S.
By a number of different measures, Canada's job markets appear more robust than the United States.
In September, for instance, while Canadian businesses and governments added to payrolls, the American job-creation machine was anything but, chewing up 159,000 positions in the month.
For the first nine months of the year, Canada has created 194,000 new positions, a gain of 1.1 per cent compared to 2007. United States' payrolls fell by three-quarters-of-a-million spots in the same period.
When you use the same method of calculation, Canada's unemployment rate for the month was 5.3 per cent, lower than America's 6.1 per cent, Statistics Canada said.
Largest jump in recorded history
The numbers represent the largest overall jump Statistics Canada has recorded since the agency began collecting the data more than 30 years ago. The previous record month was January 2002, when 97,000 jobs were added.
The employment increase in September was mostly reflected in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.
The agency said employment increased across a number of industries, including health care and social assistance, business, building, support services, agriculture, construction and natural resources.
Losses were seen in accommodation and food services, and utilities.
But almost all of this increase was in part-time work, representing 97,000 positions.
"That's not what you want to see in job creation," Taruc said. "What you want to see if more full-time jobs because there are more people gainfully employed."
The September employment report also included large job creation in Ontario and Quebec, which have been at the centre of the slowdown in the manufacturing sector, which added 20,000 jobs.
Gain follows modest pickup
The September gain follows a modest 15,000 jobs pickup in August and a loss of 55,000 jobs in July.
With most economists judging the economy is in or near a recession, the September increase may be seen as a correction of the 55,000 lost jobs in July.
Statistics Canada concedes its survey of 53,000 households has an error factor of plus or minus 43,500 jobs from the 107,000 number.
Geoff Bowlby, the agency's director of labour statistics, said the September findings were double checked because of the outsized employment growth.
"We're very confident in the number," he said. "This is well outside the statistical error range."