January unemployment edges up nationwide but unchanged in Victoria, Stats Canada

Ivan Schwartz
February 11, 2019

The government organization released the monthly report for January 2019, showing Medicine Hat's unemployment rate hit 7.7 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in December 2018.

The unemployment rate in the Montreal region was down slightly in January from the month before, falling below the level in Toronto once again. Employment in the accommodations and food services sector grew by 5,600 jobs, and transport and warehousing employment grew by 6,400 jobs.

The bumper jobs data, the second month of outsized gains in the last three, is one of the last major indicators ahead of the Bank of Canada's next rate decision on March 6.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth in January for permanent employees was 1.8 per cent, which was up from December's reading of 1.5 per cent, but still well below its May peak of 3.9 per cent.

The number is down a full percentage point from January 2018, where the unemployment rate was at 8.7 per cent.

Locally, the number of people listed as employed has gone up from about 20,600 last year to an estimated 21,600 this year.

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The census field covering oil and gas, forestry and mining jobs saw 100 jobs added compared to the same period a year ago, and 200 jobs lost month-over-month.

In a note to clients Friday, CIBC Chief Economist Royce Mendes wrote the latest job readings were "a vehicle stuck on one of Canada's clogged highways: speeding up then slowing down just to speed back up again". The youth jobless rate edged up to 11.2 per cent, from 11.1 per cent in December as more young people looked for work.

In Toronto, the participation rate was 66.2 per cent in January and the employment rate was 62.4 per cent. For last month, the rate was at 7.8%, an increase of 0.8% from December.

The economy shed 32,300 goods sector positions, mostly in agriculture and construction.

"That said, first quarter growth is still setting up to be somewhat weak given what we know is happening in the oil patch".

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