Canada's Unemployment Rate Steady At 7.1% As B.C. Leads, Alberta Lags

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Canada lost a statistically insignificant 2,100 jobs in April, Statistics Canada reported Friday, as the jobless rate held steady at 7.1 per cent. | Boguslaw Mazur via Getty Images
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Canada lost a statistically insignificant 2,100 jobs in April, Statistics Canada reported Friday, as the jobless rate held steady at 7.1 per cent.

The big winner in the month was British Columbia, while next-door neighbour Alberta was, unsurprisingly, the big loser.

British Columbia led job growth, adding 13,000 jobs in the month. Its unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 5.8 per cent, and is now the lowest rate among all the provinces.

british columbia jobs
B.C. the big winner: British Columbia's job growth has spiked strongly upwards over the past year. (Chart: Statistics Canada)

Meanwhile, Alberta shed 21,000 jobs in the month -- and that's before the Fort McMurray fire that broke out in early May. Its jobless rate stayed steady at 7.2 per cent, "as the number of people participating in the labour market also decreased," StatsCan said.

Employment was largely unchanged in Ontario and Quebec, though Ontario's jobless rate jumped to 7 per cent, from 6.8 per cent, as more people looked for work. Quebec's rate was steady at 7.5 per cent.

Ontario has seen strong job growth over the past year, adding 96,000 jobs, an increase of 1.4 per cent.

Provincial unemployment rates (previous month in brackets)

  • Newfoundland and Labrador 12.5 per cent (13.1)
  • Prince Edward Island 11.5 (11.0)
  • Nova Scotia 8.3 (9.1)
  • New Brunswick 9.6 (10.2)
  • Quebec 7.5 (7.5)
  • Ontario 7.0 (6.8)
  • Manitoba 6.1 (6.0)
  • Saskatchewan 6.3 (6.2)
  • Alberta 7.2 (7.1)
  • British Columbia 5.8 (6.5)

Manufacturing jobs disappearing fast

Canada's factories were supposed to see a boost as the Canadian dollar fell, but the loonie's recent rise back to nearly 80 cents U.S. seems to have taken some of the steam out of manufacturing employment.

Manufacturing has shed 52,000 jobs, 3 per cent of the total, just since December, StatsCan reported, with half of those losses in Alberta. But thanks to job growth last year, employment levels are still roughly where they were a year ago.

The natural resources sector continued to bleed jobs, shedding 7,800 positions in the month. StatsCan notes that, since its peak in April 2014, the resource sector has shed 12.9 per cent of all its jobs, or about 50,000 positions.

"Canadian jobs surged in March, so the labour market could be forgiven for taking a breather in April," CIBC economist Nick Exarhos wrote. Canada had added a solid 41,000 jobs in March.

He noted that paid employment rose by 23,000, while self-employment shrank by 25,000 in the month.

That's "a positive in an otherwise uneventful labour report," he wrote.

-- With a file from The Canadian Press

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