Advertisement

Ontario sheds 59,000 part-time jobs in January

Statistics Canada says Ontario shed 50,800 jobs total from December 2017, gaining 8,500 full-time positions but losing 59,300 part-time gigs.
Statistics Canada says Ontario shed 50,800 jobs total from December 2017, gaining 8,500 full-time positions but losing 59,300 part-time gigs. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

TORONTO – Ontario shed some 59,300 part-time jobs in January – the same month the province hiked minimum wage some 20 per cent to $14 an hour, but experts say it may be too soon to know how much the two are correlated.

The province shed 50,900 jobs total from December 2017, according to the Statistics Canada report.

It gained approximately 8,500 full-time positions but lost roughly 59,300 part-time gigs, according to data provided by the agency, which noted the figures are rounded.

That means there was 3.4 per cent or 46,100 fewer part-time posts in January 2018 than the same time the previous year.

READ MORE: Canada posts steepest one-month jobs loss in 9 years, down 88K positions

Some economists said it’s possible Ontario’s minimum wage increase played a role in those declines, but noted it’s important not to read too much into one month of data.

Story continues below advertisement

The province hiked minimum wage by $2.40 per hour to $14 per hour at the beginning of the year, a move some economists warned could result in mass job losses as employers look to reduce costs.

Overall, economists are divided on how minimum wage increases play out. Some research has suggested a reduction in hours or jobs follow mandated wage bumps, while other studies suggest no long-term connection between wage increases and dips in employment rates.

The 59,000 figure is a “whopping” one, said Matthieu Arseneau, senior economist at National Bank Financial Markets, in a note.

READ MORE: 60,000 job losses by 2019 due to minimum wage increase: Bank of Canada

It “may be a sign of adjustments made by corporations coping with a minimum wage surge,” he said, noting young people ages 15 to 24 lost 24,000 part-time positions.

However, economists also pointed to possible connections between Ontario’s minimum wage and Canada’s stronger average wage growth of 3.3 per cent in January.

“One of the positives in today’s release was the fact that wage growth picked up,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada.

“Now part of that might be reflecting the increase in minimum wages in Ontario because that increase in minimum wage is impacting more than 20 per cent of all the workers in Ontario.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Canada’s unemployment rate falls to lowest rate in over 40 years: StatCan

The board’s modelling suggests the increase will reduce the number of jobs created in Ontario this year by roughly 40,000.

Ontario’s mandatory minimum hourly rate is set for another bump in January 2019, when it will rise to $15.

The province of British Columbia announced Thursday it too plans to raise rates for its lowest paid employees over several years.

It aims to reach at least $15.20 by June 2021. Its current minimum wage is set at $11.35 and will rise every June, starting this year when it moves to $12.65, until it reaches at least $15.20.

Some have already criticized the increase as being too fast, noting it may be difficult for small business owners to adapt to the increased labour costs.