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Economy in Brief

Canadian Employment Situation Little Changed in August; Gain in Construction Jobs Stands Out
by Carol Stone September 10, 2004

Employment and unemployment data in Canada showed little change in August. Employment fell by 7,000 workers, falling short of forecasters' expectations of a 15,000-20,000 increase. But the unemployment rate remained at July's 7.2%, a magnitude that is among the lowest of the past 28 years. And the decline in jobs was confined to part-time workers; full-time jobs rose by 15,400 in the month.

By industry, manufacturing jobs fell 20,400, almost exactly offsetting a rise in July. Service sector employment was virtually flat at July's 11,973,000. Construction jobs, however, gained 9,000, as noted in the table below. This development is noteworthy as it highlights a continuing uptrend in that segment of the economy. The second graph alongside illustrates the sustained gain in construction employment since 1996. It is seen in the graph to parallel business investment outlays for residential and nonresidential structures in the GDP accounts (measured in chained 1997 Canadian dollars). Low interest rates have helped propel construction activity.

Even more fundamentally, population trends are helping the market for new housing. The number of 20-24 year-olds in Canada reached a trough in 1996 and has risen markedly since; this age group, the range when many young people seek out their own home, grew at a 1.7% average rate from 1998 to 2003, two-thirds faster than the Canadian population as a whole. Clearly, jobs in the construction industry have benefited from these demographics.

Canada: Selected Employment Data Aug 2004 July 2004 June 2004 Year Ago 2003 2002 2001
Unemployment Rate, SA, % 7.2% 7.2% 7.3% 8.0% 7.6% 7.6% 7.2%
Employment, Total: SA, Thousands 16,033 16,040 16,032 15,716 15,745 15,412 15,076
   Change* -7 9 25 1.8% 2.2% 2.2% 1.1%
Construction: SA, Thousands 1,009 1,000 981 942 931 883 844
   Change* 9 19 9 7.0% 5.4% 4.7% 3.4%
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