Job market slows in May

Canada's unemployment rate held steady at 7.3 per cent in May following two months of large gains.

Unemployment rate holds steady at 7.3%

After two months of outsized gains, the Canadian job market was essentially flat in May. (Bart Ah You/The Modest Bee/The Associated Press)

Canada's unemployment rate held steady at 7.3 per cent in May following two months of large gains.

Statistics Canada said Friday the economy created 7,700 new jobs last month. That wasn't enough to move the employment rate one way or the other, although it was slightly ahead of the 5,000 gains that economists were expecting.

But the jobs showing was a marked slowdown from the previous two months, which saw 58,000 and 82,000 jobs created in April and March, respectively. The weak showing should be taken within the context of generally strong showings before that, the Royal Bank of Canada noted in a commentary following the data release.

"The report adds little to what we [and the Bank of Canada] already know, and that is that Canada's labour market is healthy," RBC economist Dawn Desjardins said.

Canada has added an average of 29,000 jobs per month in 2012 and there are now 327,000 more people employed than during the previous peak, before the recession.

Employment increased in manufacturing, educational services, retail and wholesale trade, and agriculture. At the same time, information, culture and recreation as well as construction showed declines.

Employment increased among men 25 and over, and changed little in the other major demographic groups. The jobs picture for young workers (which Statistics Canada defines as those between the 15 and 24) got slightly worse, as their unemployment rate is now 14.3 per cent. Youth employment is roughly at the same level as in July 2009, when the labour market downturn hit a low.

Provincially, employment rose in Alberta and New Brunswick, while it fell in Prince Edward Island. There was little change in the other provinces.