It’s not quite as good as it looks on the surface, but the October jobs report suggests the country’s labour market is chugging along at moderately decent clip, despite all the gloom we hear about oil.
Statscan says the country churned out 44,400 new positions last month, easily topping estimates from economists who were anticipating a much more modest bump of 10,000.
That headline number sounds like a big beat – and it is – but much of the strength is temporary, thanks to the one-time hiring event that was the Oct. 19 federal election.
MORE: Employment surges by 44,000 jobs, aided by federal election hiring
There’s some underlying strengths to cheer about though, according to experts. “Today’s report is not nearly as sparkly and shiny as the headline would suggest, but the details are quite respectable,” Doug Porter, BMO’s chief economist, said.
Here’s five things to know about the October numbers:
Public administration jobs soared last month by 32,000, a not-at-all surprising development given the need to hire armies of poll workers (many of whom still haven’t been paid, incidentally).
The election likely played a role in more older workers taking up part-time work in the month – employment increased by 44,000 among women aged 55 or older for example. Next month’s job figures won’t get this kind of boost.
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Blue Jay effect?
Hotel and restaurant hiring also picked up last month – the “Blue Jay effect,” according to BMO’s Porter, referring to Toronto’s postseason which captured the attention of the entire country for a few weeks last month.
The number of new hires in that sector rose by 12,000. A glance at many of the signs carried by fans at the Rogers Centre in recent months suggest hotels and restaurants in Toronto have benefited from the Jays’ successful season, and their payrolls are reflecting it.
Alberta cools further
The bulk of the hiring last month was concentrated in British Columbia (adding 23,300 jobs) and Ontario (29,200), the two provinces expected to lead growth this year and next as the resource sector continues to face headwinds. Gains in Ontario were led by election hiring, while B.C.’s jump was more widespread.
On the flip side, Alberta took a hit of 10,800 jobs, primarily stemming from layoffs among resource companies. The jobless rate in the province crept up another tenth of a point to 6.6 per cent (and is quickly gaining on Ontario’s at 6.8 per cent – a tick lower than the previous month).
The Canadian dollar dropped sharply (toward 75 cents U.S.) after the release of the jobs report, which coincided with the release of employment figures out of the U.S.
Canada’s employment report was decent, experts say – but the U.S. numbers were outstanding, with the world’s biggest economy (and Canada’s biggest trading partner) adding a whopping 271,000 positions last month. That pretty much guarantees officials will start raising interest rates there beginning next month, something that’s pressuring the loonie.
Steady as she goes
Still, overall the Canadian employment picture isn’t all that bad, Porter said. “The economy looks to be grinding along at a pace just fast enough to absorb population growth and keep the unemployment rate pegged at around 7% for now.”
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