Statistics Canada has released its latest Labour force survey for the month of January. It shows that unemployment has fallen to 7.0 % but there are 21,900 fewer people employed and the fall in the headline rate is due to more discouraged workers dropping out of the labour force. Employment fell from December 2012 by 30.9 thousand in education; 21.6 thousand in manufacturing; 11.3 thousand in the utilities sector; 10.3 thousand in real estate and finance; and 8 thousand in health care.
Unemployment remains elevated in the Atlantic region, Ontario and Quebec, 7.7 % and 7.1 % respectively. It is much lower in Manitoba , Saskatchewan and Alberta where the participation rates are also substantially higher. The national participation rate is around 66 % but the rate is 65.4 % in Quebec, 66.3 % in Ontario, 69.6 % in Manitoba where unemployment is 5.0%; 70.2 % in Saskatchewan where unemployment is 4.0 % and 72.9 % in Alberta where the unemployment rate is 4.5 %. The participation rate is 64.0 % in B.C. where the headline unemployment rate is 6.3 %.
We shall see if this falling off in employment continues or is simply a temporary set back in next month’s report. But it is clearly no time for austerity budgeting.