Job growth flat in April but jobless rate ticks down to 6.5%

The economy added 3,200 jobs and the jobless rate ticked down two notches to 6.5 per cent in April — it's lowest level since 2008, according to Statistics Canada.

Youth unemployment rate lowest since 2008

A student fills out an application for a job at a Guess store. Fewer young people looked for work in April, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday, although the economy added 3,200 jobs. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

The economy added 3,200 jobs and the jobless rate ticked down two notches to 6.5 per cent in April — its lowest level since October 2008.

Overall, employment increased in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, while it was virtually unchanged in the other provinces, the data agency said.

Statistics Canada also reported Friday that fewer young people looked for work last month. The data agency defines young workers as those between ages 15 and 24. The jobless rate for that group fell 1.1 percentage points to 11.7 per cent — the lowest level since September 2008.

Despite the relatively flat monthly showing in terms of new jobs, the trend in Canadian jobs numbers of late has been much more positive.

Employment has now increased in eight of the last nine months, averaging about 32,000 jobs a month over that period.

"That's a honking pace for the Canadian economy," said Robert Kavcic, an economist at the Bank of Montreal.

Wage growth slows to record low

The jobless rate falling to its lowest level in nine years is good news, but not all the numbers in Friday's report were positive.

Wage growth fell to its lowest level on record dating back to 1998. The average hourly worker was only making 0.7 per cent more in April than they were a year earlier. Permanent, salaried workers fared even worse, up just 0.5 per cent.

Considering the official inflation rate is currently 1.6 per cent, the cost of living is going up almost three times faster than are raises.

That means workers are more likely to have a job today than they were a year ago, but they're actually losing ground in terms of their pay packets.

"Plunging wage growth ... is consistent with the multi-year aftermath of the commodity price shock as once high-paying jobs in resources have diminished," Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said.