Canada's jobless rate hits 2-year low

Canada's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in almost two years — 7.6 per cent — but there are fewer full-time jobs, Statistics Canada says.

Unemployment rate falls to 7.6% as economy creates 15,200 new positions

Canada's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in almost two years, but there are fewer full-time jobs, Statistics Canada says.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.6 per cent in November as the economy created 15,200 new positions, the agency said Friday.

The rate hasn't been that low since January 2009.

While part-time work rose by 26,700, there were 11,500 fewer full-time workers in November.

Analysts were expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs to be created.

The Canadian economy created 15,000 jobs in November, despite a decline in manufacturing positions, Statistics Canada says. ((J.P. Maczulski/Reuters))

"While the headline drop in the unemployment rate is a nice gift, the details beneath that shiny surface are a little less generous," said BMO analyst Doug Porter.

"The overall gain in jobs is middle of the road, but the drop in full-time, private sector employment suggests that the economy is struggling to find work now that the recession’s job losses have been recouped."

Over the past year, part-time employment has grown by four per cent, or 127,000 jobs, a faster pace than the 1.4 per cent growth in full-time positions, or 192,000 full-time jobs.

Since November 2009, employment has risen by 318,000, or 1.9 per cent.

Youths not looking

But the agency also said there was a notable decline in the number of youths in the labour market.

Statistics Canada said that the November decline in unemployment is almost all the result of 43,600 Canadians, mostly young people, leaving the labour market.

While employment among youths was largely unchanged in the month, there were fewer youths looking for work. As a result, the unemployment rate in that category fell 1.4 percentage points to 13.6 per cent. Since June, the youth participation rate has declined 2.1 percentage points, to 63.2 per cent in November, the lowest since August 1999.

Statistics Canada said November's employment gains in health care and social assistance, retail and wholesale trade, and accommodation and food services were mostly offset by declines in manufacturing as well as in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing.

Only three of 10 provinces saw job gains last month, with Ontario leading the way with some 31,200 new jobs, cutting its jobless rate to 8.2 per cent. Saskatchewan and British Columbia were the only others with job gains, with B.C.'s unemployment rate down to 6.9 per cent.

Quebec was the biggest loser on the month with a loss of 14,100 jobs, but its jobless rate eased to 7.9 per cent.

"For better or worse, the monthly headline job creation figure rarely does justice to the actual state of the Canadian labour market, and November was no exception," said Pascal Gauthier, senior economist at TD Economics.

"One thing the headline figure reflected accurately, however, is the slow-motion state of job creation."

U.S. stalls

Similar data in the U.S. showed the jobless rate rose to 9.8 per cent, as the economy only produced 39,000 new jobs. Analysts were expecting about 150,000 jobs.

This was a troubling sign for Canada as it ships about 75 per cent of its exports south of the border.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was "encouraged" by Canada's unemployment numbers, but found little comfort in the U.S. results.

"It's a bit discouraging to see the unemployment numbers in the United States — there's a persisting concern with respect to the American economy," Flaherty told a news conference in Montreal.