Canada gains 77,000 full-time jobs in May

OTTAWA — The labour market rode a surprisingly strong wave of new jobs last month as hiring rose in key areas like the private sector, manufacturing and full-time work, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Overall, the country registered a net gain of 54,400 jobs in May, the agency’s latest jobs survey found.

Behind that number, Canada saw a surge of 77,000 new full-time positions in May, which more than made up for a decline of 22,300 part-time jobs.

The national unemployment rate edged up to 6.6 per cent, a rise of 0.1 of a percentage point, as more people entered the job market in search of work.

The fresh figures added to several robust labour market gains since the middle of last year — and economists pointed to the performance as more evidence the economy’s early-2017 momentum isn’t about to slow down.

They also said the data release likely nudged the Bank of Canada a little closer to hiking its benchmark interest rate of 0.5 per cent.

Analysts not only applauded the above-expectations headline figures Friday — they also highlighted most of the finer details in the report.

“There’s a lot to like here,” said TD senior economist Brian DePratto, who noted it added yet another good set of data to a growing stack of positive economic numbers in recent months.

“We think the Canadian economy is in a very good place right now.”

In his research note to clients, BMO’s Benjamin Reitzes called the jobs survey ”a solid report almost from top to bottom.”

Bill Adams, senior international economist for PNC Financial Services Group, called the details “glorious.”

A closer look at the data showed healthy gains in some of the survey’s more-desirable categories — with 59,400 new jobs created in the private sector and 68,500 new paid employee positions.

By industry, the services sector gained 31,300 jobs last month while manufacturing added 23,300 positions, including 25,300 more in manufacturing. In services, there was a gain of 25,900 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services category.

Youth employment gave the overall number a boost as 38,200 more young people found full-time work last month. The unemployment rate for youth slipped 0.3 percentage points to 12 per cent last month as more young people participated in the job market.

The numbers easily eclipsed expectations leading up to the survey’s release. Economists had anticipated a gain of 11,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to move up to 6.6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

By province, the Statistics Canada said Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec saw the biggest job gains last month.

Quebec’s unemployment rate dropped 0.6 percentage points to six per cent — its lowest level since Statistics Canada started collecting the data in 1976.

DePratto said the only soft numbers in the report Friday were the still-weak data for wage growth and hours worked, although he added they did improve somewhat in May.

The agency said hourly wages for all employees grew 1.3 per cent year-over-year last month, an increase over April’s all-time low of 0.7 per cent. The number of hours worked rose 0.7 per cent, the report said.

DePratto said the jobs numbers combined with other robust economic figures of late, including growth, trade and retail, will likely start to tilt the Bank of Canada towards raising its interest rate.

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