Jobless rate dips to 5.9% in September on part-time job gains

The Canadian job market bounced back last month with a gain of 63,000 positions, edging the unemployment rate lower to 5.9 per cent.

Merchandise trade balance improves with decline in imports

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 5.9 per cent in September, compared to six per cent in August. (File Photo)

Canada's job market gained 63,000 positions in September, edging the unemployment rate lower to 5.9 per cent, and offsetting job losses in August, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

September's increase in employment was largely driven by gains in part-time work, with part-time jobs up by around 80,000, the agency said in its monthly labour force survey.

The job gains were also almost entirely in Ontario and British Columbia, with little change in the other provinces.

The latest monthly report from Statistics Canada indicates the jobs market remains volatile, after August saw a decline of more than 51,000 positions, raising the unemployment rate to 6.0 per cent, after two months of increases

On a year-over-year basis, Canada gained 222,000 jobs since September 2017.

Trade surplus up as imports drop 

Statistics Canada also reported the Canadian international merchandise trade balance improved in August, recording a surplus for the first time since December 2016.

It said imports fell by 2.5 per cent and exports declined 1.1 per cent, producing a surplus of $526 million compared with July's $189 million trade deficit.

The agency's monthly labour force survey found that all of the job gains in September were made by workers in the core 25-to-54 age range with virtually no change in youth employment. September's youth unemployment rate stood at 11.0 per cent, up by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.

Men in the core age bracket gained the most, with 34,000 jobs while women also saw increases of 20,000 positions.

Strong gains in construction

The agency said the number of self-employed Canadians declined by 35,000 after recording an almost equal total increase over the past 12 months.

Many of the jobs were found in construction, up by 28,000 in September, reversing two previous monthly declines.

Stephen Brown, with the Canada Economics service of London-based Capital Economics, said the rise suggests the industry might not be in as bad a shape as it previously seemed. Losses in construction of 16,400 positions were recorded for August.

Bank of Canada rate could move higher

Brown said the overall rebound is another reason to think the Bank of Canada will increase its key lending rate later this month. He said the central bank could follow up with another hike as soon as January, before it reverts to a holding pattern.

BMO Financial Group chief economist Doug Porter agreed the Bank of Canada is increasingly likely to nudge its trend-setting interest rate higher at its next meeting Oct. 24. The rate is currently at 1.5 per cent.

"The big picture is that the economy overall is looking a bit better than anticipated, with the bias now squarely to the upside on growth," Porter said in a note to clients.

Around 13,000 jobs were added in finance, insurance, real estate and rental and leasing in September, mostly in Ontario and Alberta.

Employment increased by about 12,000 in the public sector, which has seen a rise of about 20,000 jobs overall since last September.

The agriculture sector also saw gains of about 9,000 jobs, offsetting continuous declines seen since May.

Statistics Canada also released third quarter employment numbers for the territories, reporting gains of 500 and 900 jobs in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories respectively while 400 job losses were recorded in Yukon. The numbers were compared with the second quarter and based on a three-month rolling average.

Statistics Canada says September's increase in employment was largely driven by gains in part-time work. (Canadian Press)

With files from CBC News