OTTAWA – Canada’s economy managed to eke out a meagre 12,500 new jobs in April, but the addition of 36,000 full-time workers brought some solace to a labour force outlook that has turned sour of late.
The small pickup last month helped take the sting out of March’s massive 54,500 contraction and kept the unemployment rate steady at 7.2 per cent. However, it was not enough to put job creation on the positive side of the ledger for 2013 as a whole.
In the first four months of the year, Canada has seen a net loss of about 13,000 workers.
Employment had been a bright spot in the economy during the recovery, with more than 900,000 new jobs added since the 2008-09 recession. But labour market performance has not been as strong in the past year as the economy has slowed.
Statistics Canada said that for the past 12 months, employment has increased by only 163,000, a rate of growth of less than one per cent.
The April jobs report was somewhat better in the details. All the gains came in the form of new employees, rather than self-employment, and the 36,000 increase in full-time work — while most were in the public sector — is a relatively strong result.
As well, the critical manufacturing sector saw 20,600 jobs added, the most in almost a year.
Offsetting the positives, the private sector saw a net loss of 20,000 jobs and part-time work fell by 23,600.
As well, employment among youth — those aged 15-24 — continued to deteriorate as April, with a net loss of 19,000 jobs and a three-tenths of a point rise in the unemployment rate in that group to 14.5 per cent.
The growth in public sector employment, which includes health care and the police, was somewhat of a surprise, given government austerity initiatives. But Statistics Canada noted than the sector has seen a steady rise over the past 12 months, adding 93,500 new jobs, while the increase in the number of private sector employees has been only 10,000.
Besides manufacturing, the agency said there was a 13,000 increase in public administration employees and an 18,000 gain in health-care and social services.
The most pronounced job losses in April came in transportation and warehousing, shedding 21,000 workers. Employment in other services such as repair and maintenance was down 19,000 and those in business, building and other support services declined by 16,000.
Regionally, Alberta had the biggest job increases, adding 15,000 new workers, while Manitoba saw a decrease of about 11,000. Changes in employment in other provinces were modest.