The Canadian economy added 15,300 jobs in February, far higher than economists’ consensus forecast of a net gain of 2,500 positions.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.6. per cent, its lowest level since January 2015.
Even better, all of the gains came from full-time positions. Statistics Canada said an estimated 105,000 more people found full-time employment last month while part-time positions dropped by 90,000.
The data represented a positive break from the trend in 2016, when part-time employment drove job growth.
“When it came to job creation, 2016 reflected quantity over quality,” TD economist Beata Caranci had told Maclean’s at the end of the year. Such an unbalance toward temporary positions is unusual when an economy isn’t in recession, Caranci noted, warning that the numbers boded ill for Canada’s 2017 labour market performance.
Today’s release, however, appears to dispel some of those concerns.
The report is “one more piece of evidence that the Canadian economy has turned the corner,” BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes wrote in a note to clients.
StatsCan said the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 of a percentage point from 6.8 per cent in January, the result of both job creation and fewer Canadians looking for jobs.
Only people actively looking for a job are formally counted as unemployed, so a decrease in the unemployment number can reflect more Canadians finding employment or more Canadians giving up on searching for a job. In last month’s case, it was both, StatsCan said.
Provincially, B.C. saw the strongest growth, with 19,400 jobs added. Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba saw modest increases, with Ontario’s jobless rate dipping from 6.4 per cent to 6.2 per cent.
Quebec and Nova Scotia were the worst performers, shedding 11,100 and 6,800 jobs respectively. Quebec’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2 per cent to 6.4 per cent.
With files from The Canadian Press.