Unemployment rate hits two-year low in Canada
Published Friday, June 10, 2011 9:54PM EDT
Unemployment reached its lowest point in two years in May, though Statistics Canada says only a handful of provinces saw significant changes in the number of jobs created.
According to the statistics agency, the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 per cent last month, after hovering two- to four-tenths of a point higher since the start of the year.
The economy saw net gains of 22,300 jobs in May, part of a cumulative gain of 273,000 jobs over the past year.
StatsCan said the combination of more jobs and fewer people seeking work was the reason for the decline in unemployment.
CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld said that while the net gains in May were modest, they were still "impressive" results during a period in which the economy was slowing.
"The details in this month's job growth were not all rosy, but any gains at all were impressive given that they came on the heels of an outsized 58,000 prior-month tally, and amidst signs that the economy is decelerating sharply in the second quarter," Shenfeld told The Canadian Press.
But BNN's Michael Kane said there are some underlying weaknesses in the new jobs data, which was released Friday morning.
As an example, Kane said a drop of 22,500 manufacturing jobs in May was "not what you want to see in a strong economy."
Kane said employment in educational services also dropped "fairly substantially" in May, with the StatsCan numbers showing a decrease of 26,800 jobs.
There were also fresh concerns about the American economy, Canada's largest trading partner. The Dow Jones industrial average closed below 12,000 on Friday for the first time since March, due in part to fears that the economic recovery has stalled there.
North of the border, the largest gains came in the trade sector where employment increased by 34,400 jobs. The biggest losses were in manufacturing and in education, mainly at the post-secondary level.
David Madani of Capital Economics said the StatsCan data points to a continuing "gradual jobs recovery" in Canada that lacks in numbers and quality of employment.
Across the country, few provinces saw significant changes in May from the previous month, though employment increased in Quebec (0.6 per cent), Alberta (0.4 per cent) and Saskatchewan (0.5 per cent), while falling in Newfoundland and Labrador (down 1.2 per cent) and in New Brunswick (down 0.4 per cent).
All of the remaining provinces saw net losses or gains in employment of 0.3 per cent or less.
The StatsCan data shows Canada's job market to be well ahead of the United States where unemployment recently rose to 9.1 per cent.
Eric Lascelles, the chief economist for RBC Global Asset Management, said Friday that the U.S. economy has yet to recover some seven million jobs, while Canada has picked up the jobs it lost during the recession.
"We are much further along our way back to normal employment levels," Lascelles told CTV News Channel.
With files from The Canadian Press