PEI

P.E.I. unemployment rate hits 40-year low

The average unemployment rate on P.E.I. was below 10 per cent in 2017 for the first time in four decades.

Unemployment rate below 10% 4 of last 5 months

Manufacturing was a particularly strong sector for jobs in 2017. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The average unemployment rate on P.E.I. was below 10 per cent in 2017 for the first time in four decades, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

The 9.8 per cent rate for 2017 was marginally higher than in 1978, when it was 9.79 per cent.

"We see confidence and optimism amongst workers," said Brad Colwill, P.E.I.'s acting deputy minister of workforce. "They are seeking jobs and the economy's doing well."

The unemployment rate in December was 9.8 per cent. It was the fourth time in the last five months the rate was below 10 per cent. The province saw similar good runs in 2014 and 2015, but before then there have not been back-to-back single digit rates since the 1970s.

Agriculture, construction, manufacturing strong

UPEI economist George Jia said it is difficult to pin down a specific cause for the strong job performance, but he noted the strong performance of agriculture and manufacturing, which are goods producing sectors.

"Maybe the weak Canadian dollar can explain some of the traded sector's growth," said Jia.

Construction also performed well, which is connected to a growing population and, added Jia, an increase in federal infrastructure funding.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.