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Economy in Brief

Canadian Employment Rebounds in October; Participation Rate & Unemployment Steady
by Carol Stone November 4, 2005

After last month's somewhat counter-intuitive labor market report in Canada, October data righted the relationships of jobs -- up -- and unemployment -- down, showing an improved picture overall.

The number of workers employed jumped 68,700 after easing 2,300 in September. There were notable gains in several industry sectors: trade, finance, professional and technical services, education, and health and social services. Those in trade and finance were outsized and served to offset declines in previous months. Others are less defined, but indicative of generally rising trends. In the goods producing sector, total jobs were down 3,200; manufacturing, down 7,700, extended an irregular downtrend that began in early 2003, and construction fell 4,900.

The unemployment rate declined further in October, to 6.6% from 6.7% in September and two months at 6.8%. As we indicated last month, these are generation-low unemployment rates. The last time unemployment in Canada for all workers 15 years old and over was 6.6% or below was in April 1975, more than 30 years ago. Many Canadian labor market gauges highlight a middle age range of 15-64 years old, that is, omitting older workers. This unemployment rate remained at 6.8% in October, basically where it has been for the last seven months. Last month, we emphasized that lower unemployment didn't necessarily imply tight labor markets because participation was declining. There was a slight improvement in this situation in October, with the overall rate rising to 67.2% from September's 67.1%; the rate for 15-64 year olds, shown in the table below, also ticked up, from 77.7% to 77.8%.

We also cited last time the weakness in employment of young workers, but in October jobs for 15-24 year olds increased 32,000, contributing to a rise in their participation rate from 65.6% to 66.0%. Their unemployment rate dropped from 12.7% to 12.1%. Clearly month-to-month movements in these figures, particularly around the beginning of a school year, may not tell much fundamental about employment conditions generally, but for these young people, we can point to progress in reducing their unemployment from 14.0% early in 2004 and some hint of stabilization in their participation rates at about 66% throughout 2005. The number of jobs they hold is just about even with a year ago.

Mo/Mo Change, 000sDecember/December
CanadaAge 15 and over Yr/Yr % Oct
Oct 2005 Sept 2005 2004 2003 2002
Employment 68.7 -2.3 1.2% 1.5% 1.9% 4.0%
Goods- Producing -3.2 -14.5 0.4% 2.0% -0.5% 6.3%
Service- Producing 71.9 12.2 1.5% 1.2% 2.6% 3.1%
Labor Force 52.7 -7.4 0.7% 1.1% 1.6% 3.2%
Ages 15-64 Oct 2005 Sept 2005 Oct 2004 Annual Average
Unemployment Rate 6.8% 6.8% 7.1% 7.2% 7.7% 7.7%
Participation Rate 77.8% 77.7% 78.1% 78.2% 78.1% 77.4%
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