02/28/2015 05:20 EST | Updated 02/28/2015 05:59 EST

The Surprising Places Where Canada Is Creating Jobs


Canada’s job market may not be struggling quite as badly as recent reports suggest, according to new numbers from StatsCan.

The agency’s labour force survey, released last month, found Canada lost 4,300 jobs in December, but an alternate measure released this week says the country actually added 21,800 jobs that month.

The survey of payroll employment and hours found some unexpected sources of job growth -- natural resources and energy, for example.

Despite depressed oil and commodity prices, the mining, oil and gas sector added 1,200 jobs in December, and the total number of jobs was up 3.1 per cent compared to a year earlier.

That’s three times as strong as overall job growth for all industries, which amounted to 1 per cent over that time.

And despite all the talk about the slowdown in Alberta, the province was still leading job growth in Canada as of the end of last year, adding 70,000 jobs over the course of 2014, the fastest rate of any province.

Interestingly, it’s the same thing in the U.S.’s oil fields: Resource jobs in Texas and North Dakota have shown no sign of slowing down, despite reports of individual oil companies laying workers off.

The job growth probably won’t last, though. Alberta’s finance ministry projects the province will lose 31,800 jobs this year, thanks to the oil price rout.

Some other surprises in the report: Atlantic provinces are leading the way in wage growth, with wages in Newfoundland seeing the largest jump, 4.4 per cent in the year to December.

New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia all saw wage growth above average, while Canada’s largest provinces (Ontario, Quebec and B.C.) all saw wage growth below the national average.

Overall, wages in Canada were up by 2 per cent in the year to December, a slower pace of growth than was seen just months earlier, when it was above 3 per cent at an annual pace.

That fits with Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz’s assertion this week that falling oil prices will reduce Canadian incomes, which in turn could worsen Canadians’ debt burdens.

Charts by William Alcopra