Canadian economy's job gains driven by part-time work, youth employment

OTTAWA — Canada's economy posted a job surge last month of 81,100 net new positions, the bulk of which were part time, in the services sector and picked up by young people.

Statistics Canada said in a report Friday that, even with the increase, the August unemployment rate stayed at 5.7 per cent as more people looked for work. The jobless rate remained near its four-decade low.

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The strong monthly gain — the biggest since Canada added 106,500 jobs in April — easily beat economists' predictions and followed three-straight months of relatively flat readings.

The report landed as the domestic economy shows signs of bouncing back from a slowdown last winter. Canada has displayed resilience at a time of slowing global growth and heightened trade risks.

The release also comes ahead of the start of the federal election campaign. In the lead up to next month's vote, Canadians will hear a lot from political parties as they pitch their plans as the best road maps for job creation and the economy.

The new jobs in August included a boost of 94,300 jobs in the private sector and a rush of 73,300 new positions in services industries, Statistics Canada said in its labour force survey. Job creation in services was concentrated in areas such as finance, insurance, real estate, retail and education.

The report said 57,200 of the new jobs were part time, while full-time positions also increased by 23,800.

Of the new jobs, 42,000 were held by young workers aged 15 to 24 years old, almost all of whom were women. The number of summer students, who planned to return to school after working between May and August, rose five per cent compared with 2018.

By province, the biggest employment increases were in Ontario and Quebec, while Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick saw smaller gains.

"With solid details top to bottom, it is hard not to like today's report," TD senior economist Brian DePratto wrote in a report to clients.

"Even the unchanged unemployment rate has a positive tone to it, coming from a rising labour force."

Compared with a year earlier, the numbers show Canada added 471,300 jobs — the majority of which were full time — for an increase of 2.5 per cent. The number of hours worked, year-over-year, were up 1.2 per cent.

The report also showed that wage growth decelerated in August, a month after it had reached it highest level since January 2009. Average hourly wage growth, year-over-year, for all employees was 3.7 per cent last month, down from a 4.5 per cent pace in July.

The reading, one of several wage measures watched by the Bank of Canada, was 3.8 per cent in June and 2.8 per cent in May. The central bank's gauge of underlying wage pressures has been showing signs of strength in recent months.

Brendon Bernard, an economist for Indeed Canada, said while wages came down a bit in August they still "clocked in at a solid pace."

"That's consistent with some other wage indicators that we have suggesting that paycheques are starting to rise," Bernard said.

Economists had expected an addition of 15,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly stated the average hourly wage growth.

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