Canada added 'modest' 6,600 jobs in July

The Canadian economy created 6,600 jobs in July, Statistics Canada reports, roughly in line with economists' expectations. But that wasn't enough to budge the unemployment rate, which has remained at 6.8 per cent for six straight months.

Unemployment rate remains steady for 6th straight month at 6.8%

The Canadian economy created 6,600 jobs in July, Statistics Canada reported Friday, roughly in line with economists' expectations. The unemployment rate remained at 6.8 per cent for the sixth straight month. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

Canada's overall labour market didn't change very much in July as the economy created 6,600 additional jobs, Statistics Canada reported today.

That was roughly in line with the 5,000 new jobs that economists had been forecasting. 

The unemployment rate remained at 6.8 per cent for the sixth straight month.

Manufacturing remains weak as another 4,600 factory jobs disappeared in July. Job gains were concentrated in the services-producing sector. 

Several economists called it a mixed report but said the numbers still don't cry "recession."

"Make no mistake, this is not a strong report ... but it's also not notably weak," said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter. "While many have been quick to label this year's economic performance a recession, the job numbers just haven't backed that up." 

CIBC World Markets economist Nick Exarhos said much the same thing in a morning commentary, saying the data "isn't yet pointing to Canada being in recession," noting that 11,000 jobs have been added over a period which included a major downturn in the oil and gas sector.

Canada's GDP declined in each of the first five months of the year. But exports surged in June, suggesting to some observers that the economy may be in the early stages of a rebound from its oil-related slump. 

Nationally, the economy has churned out 161,400 jobs in the last 12 months, with more than 100,000 jobs added so far this year.

Part-time jobs rise 

The overall growth in jobs in July was due to a big gain in the ranks of the self-employed. Self-employment grew markedly, adding 40,500 workers in that sector, while there were losses in the public sector (down by 5,800 jobs) and especially the private sector (down 28,100 jobs). 

David Madani, of Capital Economics, said that doesn't paint a rosy economic picture for the months ahead.

"The slowdown in private-sector hiring suggests that the economy has lost some momentum," he said in a note to clients. "Unfortunately, with oil prices tumbling again and businesses likely to make deeper cuts in investment, employment prospects appear to be deteriorating." 

The ranks of part-timers rose last month, Statistics Canada said. The economy added 23,900 part-time jobs. The number of full-time jobs fell by 17,300. 

Men aged 25 to 54 were the primary beneficiaries of more work, while Statistics Canada said there was little change among other groups.

Employment rose in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, but dropped in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta. Alberta saw its jobless rate climb 3/10ths of a percentage point to six per cent as more people entered the labour force looking for work. Employment was unchanged in Ontario. 

Saskatchewan, despite seeing its jobless rate rise by half a percentage point from June, still enjoys the lowest jobless rate in the country, at 5.2 per cent. 

Newfoundland and Labrador's unemployment rate remains the highest, at 11.9 per cent. 

No interest rate impact seen

Several analysts pointed out that last month's job gains essentially reversed the 6,400 jobs the Canadian economy had shed in June. 

TD economist Randall Bartlett said this "modest" jobs report suggests no interest rate changes are likely any time soon, as it shows an economy that is "evolving broadly in line with the Bank [of Canada]'s expectations, and as such is likely to support the central bank remaining on the sidelines for the foreseeable future."

Canada's job gains have lagged the U.S., with Canada seeing employment rise by 0.9 per cent in the past year. The number of U.S. jobs, by contrast, has risen by 2.1 per cent over the same period.

The latest release of U.S. jobs numbers Friday that showed the American economy added 215,000 jobs in July. Analysts said job growth like that would likely nudge the U.S. Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates in September.

With files from The Canadian Press