Windsor unemployment down to 7.7%, no longer tops in Canada

Windsor's unemployment rate dropped nearly two percentage points in February, falling to 7.7 per cent, down from from 9.3 per cent in January.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been hiring at its Windsor Assembly Plant. (Canadian Press File Photo)

Windsor's unemployment rate dropped nearly two percentage points in February, falling to 7.7 per cent, down from 9.3 per cent in January.

Also, the city is no longer the unemployment capital of Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, the following major Canadian cities all have unemployment rates higher than Windsor:

  • Montreal 8.7
  • St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 8.5
  • Saguenay, Que. 8.5
  • Calgary 8.4
  • Sudbury, Ont. 8.3
  • Saint John, N.B. 8.3
  • Kelowna, B.C. 8.1

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens called the news fantastic.

"I don't like having the monikor of the mayor of the city with the highest unemployment rate. Now, I can say no longer have that title," he said.

Dilkens said the job numbers show the city's decision to hold the line on property taxes is working.

"We know that makes it an affordable community for residents to live and businesses to invest," he said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently invested $2 billion in an upgrade at its Windsor Assembly Plant and has been on a hiring spree there. It employs about 5,000 people, most of whom are represented by Unifor Local 444.

The company originally said they would need an additional 600 people to help build the new Chrysler Pacifica. It then upped that number to 1,200.

"We know that every job created in the plant, there's a 9-to-1 spinoff. We're starting to see the impact as they ramp up full production of the Pacifica," Dilkens said.

Meanwhile, Unifor Local 195 vice-president John Toft told CBC that there has been a significant increase in membership there.

Local 195 represents unionized workers across a number of industries, including manufacturing, security and hospitality.

At its peak, the local had approximately 7200, prior to 2008. Membership then bottomed out at 3,500, but now stands at 4,200.

Stats Can cautions the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples.

Economist Mike Moffatt also cautions to not read too much into the most recent numbers.

"It's likely a statistical fluke, based on a very small survey," the assistant professor of business economics at Western University's Ivey Business School wrote in an email to CBC. "We'll need to wait a few months to find out whether or not this is real. Almost always when there's a sudden, unexplained changed in a city's employment figures it reverses itself in a few months."

On Twitter, Moffatt accused Statistics Canada's method of tracking unemployment "a random number generator."

Nationally, unemployment crept up to 7.3 per cent in February, amid flat overall job growth, Statistics Canada said.

The jobless rate increased by 0.1 per cent for the third month in a row, the agency's latest labour force survey found.

The report says the country lost 2,300 net jobs in February compared to the previous month, though the agency deemed that figure statistically insignificant.