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Economy in Brief

Canadian Employment Up, Unemployment Down in March
by By Carol Stone April 8, 2005

The Canadian labor market has shown some further gains early in 2005, as employment has continued rising and the unemployment rate has edged lower.

Employment was up 4,400 in March, following 26,200 February. Both goods and service industries have participated in recent advances, although both sectors have experienced occasional monthly declines.

The unemployment rate was 6.9% last month, down from the 7.0% of the previous three months and the lowest since January 2001. The rate for men was unchanged in March for a third month at 7.3%; the rate for women declined from 6.8% in February to 6.6%. This rate for women is the second lowest ever; the low was 6.4% in June 2000. Reduced labor force participation accounts for some of the recent reduction in women's "unemployment", but employment among women has continued to rise in most months.

Statistics Canada also publishes data on total hours worked. These amounted to 537.1 million in the March survey reference week, almost exactly unchanged from February's total. It is sometimes the case that when the workload increases, employers will lengthen existing workers' schedules rather than hire new workers.That situation seems to hold for Canadians; over the last 10 years, the number of hours per employee has had a negative correlation of 78% with the number of employees. But also evident in the second graph is that since late 2003, both average hours and employment have tended higher. So demand for workers and longer hours have coincided. It is no accident that business productivity has flattened during this time, according to separate StatCan data.

All these data are carried in Haver's "CANSIM" database.

Thousands, SA
Mar 2005  Feb 2005  Jan 2005 
2004 2003 2002  2001 
Employment +4.4  +26.6  -5.7  +1.4% +1.8% +3.9% +0.3%
Goods Producing +10.8  -30.3  +13.1  +2.0%  -0.5% +6.3% -2.9%
Services Producing -6.3  +56.8 -18.8  +1.2% +2.6% +3.1%  +1.4%
Labor Force -11.5  +28.7  -16.2  +1.1% +1.6%  +3.3% +1.7% 
Unemployment Rate 6.9% 7.0% 7.0%  Annual Average 
7.2%  7.6%  7.7% 7.2% 
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