Unexpected job loss in June
OTTAWA—The Canadian economy’s capacity to generate meaningful job growth continued to fall short of expectations last month—particularly in Ontario—as employment surprisingly fell by 9,400 nationally in June and by 33,900 in the country’s most populous province.
Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate rose one-10th of a point to 7.1 percent—the highest it’s been in six months.
Economists said the result also may cause the Bank of Canada to trim its growth expectations for the economy in next week’s monetary policy report while signalling interest rates will remain low well into mid-2015.
“Even looking beyond what happened in June, the bigger picture is that outside of Alberta we’ve seen no job growth in the country in the past year,” said Doug Porter, chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.
“There are a number of reasons but simply put, most of what had been the bigger drivers for the Canadian job market have really subsided . . . things like strong gains in home building, things coming from the consumer, even government spending,” he noted.
“To some extent, the taps have been turned off,” Porter said.
What could create more jobs in the future is a recovery in the export sector, he added, but that has been slow in coming.
“Clearly, the economy just isn’t benefiting from the gradually improving U.S. economy due to trade competitiveness problems, which must be of great concern to the Bank of Canada,” added David Madani of Capital Economics.
The numbers also may be starting to create problems for the federal Conservative government.
Since the recovery began in 2009, federal ministers have stressed two economic themes—that while the economy is fragile, Canada is doing better than practically everyone else and that the country has led the industrialized world in job creation.
But the latter boast is wearing thing, particularly as Statistics Canada calculates a mere 72,000 jobs have been added over the past year.
Take Alberta out of the picture and the rest of the country actually would show a 10,000 job loss in the last year.
By contrast, in the U.S., 200,000-plus monthly job gains have become commonplace.
Union economist Erin Weir of the United Steelworkers said the results show the Harper government’s obsession with balancing the budget before the next election is not working for Canadian workers.
“Continuing evidence of a weak Canadian labour market underscores the need for public investment in important services and infrastructure to help create jobs,” he argued.
“Austerity is the wrong priority for federal and provincial governments.”
The prospects for the immediate future don’t look encouraging. Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada’s survey of business confidence found Canadian firms’ hiring intentions had eased somewhat from what they were three months ago.
Porter said he does anticipate some minor improvements going forward, but added Canadians should not expect a “jobs windfall.”