September 18, 2013
By a small margin, Canada has bragging rights over the U.S. based on August’s labour reports (Part 1)
Based on the latest labour market reports, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper both have reason to step more sprightly at the G-20 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Given the time difference, they didn’t awaken to the good news. But they received it early enough to crow about it during the pre-dinner cocktail reception.
Although it should be added that for both countries — the U.S. more than Canada — the positive spin is slightly tainted.
Canada’s unemployment rate in August, as reported by Ottawa’s statistical agency, dropped to 7.1% from 7.2% the month before.
The net change in jobs was +59,000, the second highest month-to-month gain so far this year, trailing only May’s +95,000 figure.
But most of the increase was in part-time work, +41,000 compared with +17,000 for full-time.
“Casual” employ-ment is usually neither as secure nor as high-paying as a permanent endeavour.
Total employment in Canada year-over-year in August was +1.4%. The services sector, which accounts for nearly 80% of the total, also increased payrolls by 1.4% year-over-year.
Among sub-categories, the leaders were professional, scientific and technical services, +4.8%, accommodation and food services, +3.8%, and retail trade, +3.3%.
Public administration employment was -1.0% compared with August of last year.
In absolute terms, the greatest month-to-month gains in employment were recorded in health care and social assistance (+60,000), information, culture and recreation (+33,000) and accommodation and food services (+26,000).
The largest offsetting declines came in educational services (-22,000), finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-19,000) and business, building and other support services (-11,000).
Moving to the goods side of the economy, jobs in construction continued to be plentiful, +9.1% year-over-year.
By way of contrast, jobs in manufacturing in August were -2.9% compared with the same month a year ago.
Over the past year, the total number of jobs in Canada has risen by 246,000. Services employment has climbed by 188,000 and construction by 113,000, while manufacturing has fallen back by 53,000.
Regionally, almost all (i.e., 92%) of Canada’s year-over-year gain in the total number of jobs has occurred in only two provinces, Ontario (+149,000) and Alberta (+77,000).
Also note the following gender and age differences in the Canadian labour market. The unemployment rate for women aged 25 and over is a quite low 5.6%. Men in the same age group have a jobless rate of 6.2%. The current youth unemployment rate is 14.1%.
Moving on to the U.S. labour scene, the jobless rate south of the border also eased down by one percentage point in August, to 7.3% from 7.4%, as the nation added 169,000 net new positions.
At the same time, there was an unfortunate revision to earlier data. The employment gain reported a month ago for July has just been revised down by 77,000 to stand at only +104,000.
The U.S. is packing on jobs, but it’s an uphill hike that requires both fortitude and endurance.
(per cent) – seasonally adjusted data
Data sources (seasonally adjusted): Statistics Canada and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
(Department of Labor)/Chart: CanaData – Reed Construction Data.