OTTAWA – The unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 per cent in September — its lowest level since 2008 — as fewer young people looked for work, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The improvement in the unemployment rate from 7.1 per cent in August came as the economy added 11,900 new jobs for the month, just ahead of the 10,000 that had been expected by economists.
The gain in jobs followed the addition of 59,200 jobs in August.
Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said that, in general, the details of the report were stronger than the overall numbers would suggest.
“The private sector, in particular, saw very strong job growth and maybe, most notably, we actually had another notable decline in the unemployment rate and finally we’re below seven per cent,” he said.
The number of private sector employees was up 74,000, but that was offset by a drop of 45,000 in the number of self employed.
However, Porter said the results would do little to change the bank’s outlook for growth in the third quarter at a two per cent pace.
“I think we’ll see respectable growth, but nothing special,” he said.
The jobs report came as a survey by the Bank of Canada suggested Canadian companies are becoming gloomier about the global economy and want to see signs of progress, such as increasing hiring and investment.
Last week, the central bank lowered its forecasts for economic growth in the second half of 2013 and possibly for next year.
Senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem said the third quarter will likely show the economy grew at a pace of 2.0 to 2.5 per cent compared with an earlier forecast for a pace of 3.8 per cent.
Regionally, the number of jobs was up 2,800 in New Brunswick and down 3,200 in Saskatchewan while there was little change in the other provinces.
Despite the drop in the number of jobs in Saskatchewan, the province matched Alberta for the lowest provincial unemployment rate at 4.3 per cent.
The unemployment rate in Ontario fell 0.2 percentage points to 7.3 per cent, while Quebec’s unemployment rate slipped 0.3 percentage points to 7.6 per cent as fewer young people looked for work.
Erin Weir, economist at the United Steelworkers, said that trend in fewer young people searching for work is troubling as 21,000 young Canadians dropped out of the job market.
“I think today’s report confirms the basic narrative which is that Canada’s economy is creating jobs, but barely enough jobs to keep pace with growth in our working age population,” he said.
However, Weir said the shift from part-time jobs to full-time employment and the move from self-employment to employer-paid positions were promising.
The number of full-time jobs increased 23,400, while part-time employment fell by 11,500.
Among the industries tracked, finance, insurance, real estate and leasing led overall job growth with 33,000 new workers in September, while there were 19,000 new jobs in natural resources and a gain of 8,500 in agriculture.
There were 26,000 fewer jobs in manufacturing in September and 17,000 fewer in public administration.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the overall trend in Canada remains positive.
“Not only were more jobs created in September, but we saw solid gains in the private sector and in full-time employment,” he said in a statement.
“That being said, the global economy is still fragile and there are still too many Canadians out of work.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly stated that no new net jobs were created.