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Economy in Brief

Canada Labor Market Improves Further
by Carol Stone June 4, 2004

The labor market in Canada extended its improvement in May, with yet another good rise in employment and a further retreat in unemployment. Employment went up 56,100, taking the employment rate up to 62.6% of the population aged 15 and over. Unemployment fell 14,100, with the unemployment rate at 7.2%, lowest since September 2001.

The industrial pattern of employment changes was notable in May for a continuing advance in construction, and also a rise of 12,000 in manufacturing. This pushed the year-on-year change in factory work to +0.1%, the first positive figure since February 2003. Other industries shared the gains, especially education services, which had fallen in April. Professional and technical services and "other" services also contributed. On the downside was a reversal in business support services from their April gain, along with declines in agriculture, information services and accommodation and food services.

As we noted here last month, the Canadian labor market has performed better than that in the US over the last couple of years. Evidence of this is seen in the chart, which illustrates monthly percent changes in employment in each of the two countries. The bars for the Canadian data show the sustained growth of jobs there in most months, an impressive development in light of the sluggish and irregular pattern of jobs in the US.

Canada: Selected Labor Market Indicators May 2004 Apr 2004 Mar 2004 Year/ Year 2003 2002 2001
Employment Change +56K +50K -13K 2.0% 2.2% 2.2% 1.1%
Employment Rate 62.6% 62.5% 62.4% 62.2% 62.4% 61.8% 61.2%
Manufacturing Employment Change +12K +4K +7K +0.1% -1.4% +2.3% -0.3%
Unemployment Rate 7.2% 7.3% 7.5% 7.9% 7.6% 7.6% 7.2%
Labor Force Change +42K +17K +8K 1.3% 2.2% 2.7% 1.5%
Participation Rate 67.5% 67.4% 67.4% 67.5% 67.5% 66.9% 66.0%
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