Unemployment rate hit record low 5.3% in March: Statistics Canada

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Canada’s unemployment rate for March. The correct figure is 5.3%. Global News regrets this error.

Canada’s unemployment rate dropped to a record low 5.3 per cent in March as provinces including Ontario and Quebec saw record employment gains in an already tight job market.

Statistics Canada says this marks the lowest unemployment rate since the agency started tracking comparable data in 1976.

The country added 73,000 jobs in March, a 0.4 per cent rise from February’s figures.

Statistics Canada also says the unemployment rate would have been 7.2 per cent had it included in calculations people who wanted a job but did not look for one.

That’s the first time that rate has fallen to its pre-pandemic level.

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Driving the job gains in March were women over age 55 finding work, and men between 25 and 54 taking jobs, primarily part-time.

CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham says there may be room for the unemployment rate to fall a little further, given areas of the country like oil-producing provinces were not at full employment before the pandemic struck.

Since hitting a peak of 1.5 million in April 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people wanting work but not actively looking has fallen to 377,000, similar in size and proportion to the overall labour force witnessed in the month of March in each of the three years before 2020.

Statistics Canada says the reasons they weren’t looking for work varied.

Just over one-quarter didn’t look because of an illness or disability. A further one-fifth were part of a group waiting for a recall or reply from an employer, or who didn’t think there was anything available.

Nearly an additional fifth pointed to personal and family responsibilities as the reason they paused their job search.

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The agency says employers will have to tap into this group amid widespread labour shortages, though their ranks are falling.

The tightening of the labour market also meant average hourly wages were up to 3.4 per cent year-over-year in March, up from 3.1 per cent in February.

— with files from Canadian Press

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