Canada jobless rate rises despite surge in employment

Ottawa: Canada added 67,000 jobs in January, but the unemployment rate still climbed 0.2 percentage points to 5.8 percent as more people started the year looking for work, the government statistical agency said Friday.

Employment growth, according to Statistics Canada, was led by younger workers aged 15 to 24 and the wholesale and retail industries.

The number of workers in professional, scientific and technical services also rose, while jobs in goods-producing sectors decreased — notably in agriculture.

Employment rose in six provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec, while it fell in Alberta and Saskatchewan. British Columbia and Prince Edward Island saw little change.

The jobs picture was much stronger than expected amid stresses in the oil sector and housing market.

“Following a quieter month in December,” when the economy generated only 9,300 new jobs, January’s figures “blew past expectations” commented Royce Mendes of CIBC Economics, for a modest gain of 5,000 to 6,000 jobs.

“The unemployment rate did rise, but only because of an increase in the participation rate,” he said. “Overall, it’s been a good day for readings on the Canadian economy.”

Mendes predicted that first quarter economic growth is still likely to be “somewhat weak” due to struggles getting oil to new markets due to regulatory delays in building new pipelines.

So despite the data being “bullish for the Canadian dollar,” he said, the Bank of Canada is likely to wait until the second half of 2019 before raising its key lending rate — after several hikes in the past 18 months from a near-record low.