Canadian employment fell by 2800 in February. This has now happened in three of the last five months, suggesting that a definite slowing down in the economy is emerging . Not a good sign for the unemployed and a clear warning to the finance minister who is bringing down a new austerity oriented budget in a few days that he should revise his plan. Some 37,900 people dropped out of the labour force last month so that even though the headline rate of unemployment fell to 7.4 % from 7.6 % the reality was that fewer people were working than last month. The sluggish growth in employment should cause some serious rethinking both at the Bank of Canada and within the finance department about the renewed emphasis on budget cutting and raising intererst rates. Obviously this is premature.
The Canadian labour force consists of 18.74 million workers . According to the Stats Canada Labour force survey for February some 17.35 million are currently employed , 14.06 million in full time jobs, 3.3 million in part time jobs. There are, despite a recovery from the crash, 1.386 million workers still unemployed which translates into a 7.4 % unemployment rate. This is significantly lower than in the U.S. but still elevated and a source of hardship for these workers and their families. The participation rate fell last month from 66.7 % to 66.5 %. In fact, the participation rate has fallen 0.5 % over the past 12 months. The public sector lost some 13,400 jobs from January to February. Unemployment remains low in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta where the rate is well below 6 % but elevated in Quebec 8.4 % and Ontario 7.6 %. resource rich B.C. has a 6.9 % unemployment rate. The Atlantic provinces as is traditionally the case have elevated rates of 8.2% in Nova Scotia,10.1 % in New Brunswick and 12.9 % in Newfoundland.
In the U.S. the picture was brighter as the recovery continued and under the broader definition of unemploymentthe rate fell fell from 15.1 % to 14.9% as well over 230,000 new jobs were created. In fact because the economy is stronger more than 400,000 workers rejoined the labour force otherwise the headline rate of unemployment would have fallen. As it was it remained at 8.3 %. If current trends continue the unemployment rate should drop to 8% or lower by election time next Fall.