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Ottawa-Gatineau adds 2,300 jobs in May

By Robert Bostelaar , The Ottawa Citizen June 4, 2010

OTTAWA — Ottawa-Gatineau added another 2,300 jobs in May, extending a growth spurt that has boosted employment in the capital by 26,000 in the past 12 months.

Despite the increase, part of an unexpected jump of 24,700 new jobs across Canada, a rise in the number of people looking for work kept the region’s jobless rate at 6.0 per cent.

The national unemployment rate stayed at 8.1 per cent, again because more job-seekers entered the labour market, Statistics Canada reported.

May’s growth brought employment in Ottawa-Gatineau to 676,000, surpassing the previous high mark of 674,900 in November 2008, just before the economy was derailed by recession.

Proportionately, however, the region’s employment remains below record levels. Of residents aged 15 and over, 68.5 per cent held jobs last month, compared to 71.2 per cent in November and December 1988.

But Statistics Canada labour analyst Vince Ferrao says the jobs added since May 2009 signal a strengthening economy.

“Over a year it’s gone up by 26,000, and that’s a growth rate of four per cent over 12 months. That’s very healthy,” he said Friday.

Among sectors gaining jobs: retail and wholesale; finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; public administration, and health care and social assistance.

Manufacturing and high tech remain down from a year ago, but Statistics Canada said the tech sector gained an estimated 1,500 jobs in May, bringing it to 47,900.

OTTAWA— The Canadian economy added a greater-than-expected 24,700 jobs in May, the fifth consecutive monthly gain, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The unemployment rate remain unchanged at 8.1 per cent, the federal agency said, as more people entered the labour market in search of jobs.

Across Canada, jobs were added for a fifth consecutive month.

Full-time employment rose by 67,300 in May, while part-time positions fell by 42,500. The private sector accounted for 43,400 new positions during the month, with the public sector added 9,400 jobs. However, there were 28,000 fewer self-employed workers in May, Statistics Canada said.

Economists had expected about 15,000 jobs to have been created in May, following a record-breaking 108,700 new positions the previous month. Still, most forecasters thought the unemployment rate would ease to eight per cent.

The strongest job gains were in transportation and warehousing, and health care and social assistance. Public administration and agriculture were also higher. The biggest declines were in the information, culture and recreation sectors, as well as in the accommodation and food services, and natural resources industries.

Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia all saw employment gains in May, while British Columbia and Prince Edward Island lost jobs.

Meanwhile, average hourly wages rose 2.4 per cent in May, in line with gains in the same month a year earlier.

“Over the next few months, we expect the pace of job creation to move back within the 20K to 40K range, as the Canadian economic recovery continues to gain self-sustaining momentum. The unemployment rate should continue its downward trajectory,”said Millan Mulraine, economics strategist at TD Economics.

On Tuesday, the Bank of Canada began cranking up its key lending rate for the first time in nearly three years. The central bank increased borrowing cost by 25 basis points to 0.5 per cent amid signs the domestic economy is rebounding strongly, even as the global recovery appears “uneven.”

Canada’s economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the first quarter of this year, led by consumer spending. Gross domestic product rose at an annualized pace of 6.1 per cent between January and March, the biggest jump since the last quarter of 1999, Statistics Canada reported Monday.

“The solid employment gain over the past few months highlights the positive momentum in the Canadian economy, and reinforces the Bank of Canada’s rationale to hike rates earlier this week despite the turmoil in Europe,”said Benjamin Reitzes, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

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