BUSINESS

Canada Just Lost The Most Jobs Since The Great Recession, Payroll Report Says

10/30/2015 12:14 EDT | Updated 10/30/2015 12:14 EDT

Canada lost jobs at the fastest pace since the Great Recession in August, Statistics Canada’s latest payroll report shows.

The survey of payroll employment, earnings and hours found Canada lost 58,600 jobs in August, the biggest single-month drop since 2009, when the country was feeling the impact of the global financial crisis.

The survey also showed Canadians’ earnings once again shrank in August, down 0.7 per cent from the month before. Wages have had a volatile year but are still up 0.8 per cent from a year earlier.

The numbers stand in contrast to StatsCan’s earlier labour force survey, which showed that Canada gained 12,000 jobs in August, while the unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 7 per cent.

It’s not unusual for the two measures of Canadian employment to show differing numbers from month to month, but recently the divergence has been large enough to cast doubt on the overall employment picture.

According to the labour force survey, which is released earlier and gets more media attention, the number of jobs in Canada has grown by 1.3 per cent over the past year. But according to the payroll report, Canada has only added 0.3 per cent more jobs — not nearly enough to cover population growth.

“As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in between,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in a client note.

Some economists argue the payroll report is more accurate because it includes not only a survey, but also pay data from Canada Revenue Agency.

Alberta The Biggest Loser

The payroll report shows oil-producing regions have been bleeding jobs. Alberta lost 52,800 jobs in the past year, or 2.6 per cent of all positions in the province, the largest loss of any province. Saskatchewan came second, with a loss of 6,800 jobs, or 1.4 per cent of the province's total.

But the same low oil prices that have hammered Western Canada are proving a boost to parts of central Canada. Jobs in Ontario are up 1.7 per cent in the past year, or 98,700 positions. That's the strongest job growth in the country. Quebec, by contrast, has lost 0.4 per cent of all jobs in the past year, or 13,000 positions.

The payroll report shows the number of jobs in mining, oil and gas dropped a precipitous 11.1 per cent over the past year, the largest drop of any sector.

Employment was down in 12 of 20 sectors tracked by StatsCan, including manufacturing, construction, utilities, wholesale, retail and transportation and warehousing.

The largest job gains were in arts, entertainment and recreation (up 4.5 per cent) and accommodation and food services (up 2.1 per cent).

Here are job gains and losses by economic sector in Canada over the past year — according to the payroll report, at least.

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