Whoops! StatsCan says 42,000 jobs were gained in July, not 200
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 8:39AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 15, 2014 1:32PM EDT
Statistics Canada has corrected a big mistake in its July jobs report, showing that 42,000 jobs – not a mere 200 – were added last month.
The mistake was rooted in a gross miscalculation of full-time job losses between June and July. Last Friday, StatsCan surprised economists and business leaders when it announced that nearly 60,000 full-time jobs were lost, while the same amount of part-time jobs were created.
It turns out that only 18,000 full-time jobs were lost in July. The number of part-time gains was correct in the initial report.
The revised numbers haven’t changed Canada’s unemployment rate, which was seven per cent in July, down one-tenth of a point from June.
StatsCan blamed the mistake on an overhaul of its Labour Force Survey. The agency said one of the survey programs wasn’t updated during the redesign, due to human error.
“The system had been tested thoroughly, but somehow, in one component of the system, something that should have been changed was not changed,” StatsCan’s director-general of education, labour and income statistics, Sylvie Michaud, told CTV News Channel Friday.
As a result, the survey mistakenly classified full-time workers as being out of the labour force, Michaud said.
The botched numbers had an immediate effect on the markets and the Canadian dollar, which weakened when the incorrect report was released last week. When StatsCan realized that a mistake had been made, new employment insurance claims were frozen until the numbers could be sorted out.
Still, the agency’s chief statistician said he remains “fully confident in the integrity of the Labour Force Survey program.”
“This was an isolated incident,” Wayne Smith said in a statement. “Statistics Canada does and will continue to publish high-quality and relevant statistical information on all aspects of the Canadian economy and society."
Michaud said StatsCan has asked for an independent review of its quality assurance process to find out exactly what went wrong. She said the results of that review will be publicly released in two weeks.
Dawn Desjardins, RBC’s assistant chief economist, said the StatsCan error was unfortunate, but “it happens.”
“No one’s perfect,” she told CTV News Channel Friday. “Certainly, they did everything in their power, it seems to me, to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.”
Desjardins said it’s not all that surprising that no one at StatsCan caught the mistake before the original report was released because economic data has been volatile for some time.
“We’ve seen significant moves on a month-to-month basis so, quite possibly, they looked at the (jobs) number and thought, ‘OK, that’s just another number that’s disappointed expectations.’”
Other changes in the corrected jobs report show that the labour market participation rate was 66.1 per cent, not 65.9 per cent. The new report also shows that more people between the ages of 15 to 24, and 25 and 54, had jobs.
In a statement Friday, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver touted the Conservative government’s job creation record, but said Canada is “not immune to the global economic challenges beyond our borders,” especially those in the U.S. and Europe.
“Monthly employment numbers can be volatile,” he said. “What is more important is the long-term trend of job growth in Canada"
With files from The Canadian Press
The following interactive graph charts Canada's month-by-month unemployment rate over the last five years, according to Statistics Canada data.