Ontario drives Canada’s jobs gains in August, unemployment lowest in 9 years

The Canadian economy posted solid data gains in August, driven by job growth in Ontario.
The Canadian economy posted solid data gains in August, driven by job growth in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

The Canadian labour market posted its ninth consecutive month of gains in August, as the economy added 22,200 net jobs, roughly in line with economists’ expectations.

Statistics Canada data showed the unemployment rate dropping a notch, to 6.2 per cent, the lowest level since October 2008, before the onset of the financial crisis in this country.

READ MORE: Canadian economy smashes expectations with 4.5 per cent growth

Wages grew by 1.8 per cent compared to August of 2016, the biggest year-over-year increase since last October.

But the numbers also showed part-time jobs and self-employment driving the labour market gains. The economy added 110,400 part-time jobs while shedding 88,100 full-time positions. The number of self-employed Canadians rose by 32,700, while paid employee positions declined by 10,400.

READ MORE: Bank of Canada raises interest rate to 1% – and that’s not the end of it, economists say

Most of the decline in full-time work was concentrated among Canadians aged 15 to 24 years old. The youth category also showed a notable decrease last month in participation as fewer young people looked for work.

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Still, in a release that economists are calling a mixed bag for the Canadian job market overall, Ontario was the clear winner. The province drove the national employment gain, by adding 31,100 net new positions, enough to bring the provincial jobless rate down to 5.7 per cent, the lowest since the turn of the millennium, according to TD economist Brian DePratto. Employment held steady or declined slightly across the other provinces.

READ MORE: Canadian dollar soars, briefly touches 2-year high after rate hike

Looking at the bigger picture, however, the latest numbers said the labour market expanded 2.1 per cent compared to a year earlier with the addition of 374,300 net new jobs. Of those new jobs, 213,400 were full time. The data provided yet another sign the economy continued to have momentum after a stronger-than-expected start to 2017 that has also prompted two interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada.

The latest rate increase came earlier this week after a report showed Canadian economic growth expanded at an annual pace of 4.5 per cent from April to June.

Last month’s labour data showed that the services sector gained 35,900 jobs while the number of factory positions fell by 13,700. The goods sector slide was led by a loss of 11,100 manufacturing positions.

Here are the provinces ranked from the lowest to highest unemployment rate:

Current unemployment rate:

British Columbia5.3
New Brunswick6.5
Prince Edward Island10
Nova Scotia7.9
Newfoundland and Labrador15.7
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Unemployment rate change between July and August:

Prince Edward Island-1.2 percentage points
Newfoundland and Labrador-1 percentage points
Ontario-0.4 percentage points
British Columbia-0.2 percentage points
Saskatchewan-0.2 percentage points
Manitoba-0.1 percentage points
Quebec+0.3 percentage points
Alberta+0.3 percentage points
Nova Scotia+1 percentage change points
New Brunswick+ 1.3 percentage points

– With files from the Canadian Press