Business

Canada added 81,000 jobs in August, mostly part time: StatsCan

Canada's economy posted a job surge last month of 81,100 net new positions, the bulk of them part time, in the services sector and picked up by young people.

Unemployment rate held steady at 5.7%

A server attends to customers at a restaurant in Calgary. Statistics Canada says the economy added 81,100 jobs in August, many of them part-time positions in the service industry. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Canada's economy posted a job surge last month of 81,100 net new positions, the bulk of which were part time, in the services sector and picked up by young people.

Statistics Canada says that even with the increase, the August unemployment rate stayed at 5.7 per cent — near a four-decade low — as more people looked for work.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth for all employees slowed to 3.7 per cent last month, decelerating from July's 4.5 per cent pace, which was the strongest monthly reading since January 2009.

The agency's latest labour force survey says the country saw a rush last month of 73,300 new positions in services industries and a boost of 94,300 jobs in the private sector.

The report says 57,200 of the new jobs were part time and 42,000 of the positions were held by young workers aged 15 to 24.

Economists had expected an addition of 15,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Compared with a year earlier, the numbers show Canada added 471,300 jobs — the majority of which were full time — for an increase of 2.5 per cent.

'Gradual progress'

Jobs numbers can show a lot of volatility from month to month, and economists stress the importance of examining the trend over time. 

"Behind the eye-catching headline number, the story remains one of gradual progress," said Brendon Bernard, labour economist for job site Indeed Canada. "The Canadian job numbers perked up in August following a few tepid months. Part-time work has jumped up over the past year, but the rate of full-time job growth has also been solid."

As for the slower wage growth, Bernard said earnings were still up a solid 3.7 per cent from a year earlier, consistent with other recent wage indicators.

"We've been waiting for the tighter labour market to start showing up in Canadian paycheques — it could be finally happening now. The Bank of Canada will surely take note, when it's balancing its considerations of domestic and foreign economic conditions at its next meeting in October."

In a statement responding to the job numbers, Brian DePratto, senior economist with TD Economics, said "it is hard not to like today's report. Even the unchanged unemployment rate has a positive tone to it, coming from a rising labour force.

"Stepping back from the monthly swings, the trend remains healthy — a 30,000 average pace of hiring over the last six months is healthy by any measure."

Noting Canadian job growth outpaced that of the U.S. this month, Derek Holt, Scotiabank's head of capital markets economics, said in an email that Canada is on track to create about 450,000 new jobs this year.

Employment up in 5 provinces

Ontario saw the biggest gains, with 58,000 new positions, led by the wholesale and retail sectors. Quebec added 20,000 jobs across a wide range of industries.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick also saw increased jobs.

While the employment rate held steady in most provinces, British Columbia and Nova Scotia both saw unemployment rise 0.5 per cent as more people looked for work.

The new jobs in August included a boost of 94,300 jobs in the private sector and 73,300 new positions in services industries, the agency said in its latest labour force survey. Job creation in services was concentrated in areas such as finance, insurance, real estate, retail and education.

The report says 57,200 of the new jobs were part time and 42,000 of the positions were held by young workers aged 15 to 24, almost all of whom were women. The number of summer students, who planned to return to school after working between May and August, rose five per cent compared to 2018.

With files from CBC