Nice surprise on the employment side in February in Quebec and Canada

the variant Omicron will have only passed through the employment landscape.

On the rise at the start of the year after the tightening of health rules, the unemployment rate in Quebec and Canada fell to its record low as soon as the worst of the last wave of COVID-19 was passed and that the public authorities began to soften their means of struggle, reported Friday Statistics Canada.

The extent of the turnaround surprised analysts, who were expecting a rebound in employment in February, but not of this magnitude. They had predicted a gain equivalent to or slightly greater than the roughly 200,000 jobs lost the month before; instead, the Canadian economy gained almost 350,000.

The unemployment rate in Canada thus fell suddenly from 6.5% to 5.5%, for the first time below the level it posted just before the start of the pandemic (5.7% ) and very close to its historical low (5.4%) — at least, as far back as official statistics allow us to go, that is to 1976. In Quebec, the addition of 81,500 jobs reduced the unemployment rate by 5 .4% to 4.5%, its record level.

Measured during the week of February 13 to 19, this progress in Canada was mainly observed in the accommodation and food services sector (+114,000 jobs) and in the information, culture and recreation sector ( +73,000). However, all economic sectors also gained ground, especially construction (+37,000).

The employment rate, i.e. the proportion of the population aged 15 and over who are employed, returned for the first time to its pre-pandemic level of 61.8%. As for the core working age group of 25 to 54 years, this proportion is even at its highest level since 1981 among men (88.2%), and at a peak among women (81%). Although lower, the employment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 has also returned to a level comparable to before COVID-19. Among those aged 55 and over, however, we are still slightly behind.

This great return to normal, however, hides labor shifts from one sector to another, with accommodation and food services in particular still posting a deficit of 210,000 jobs (17.2%) compared to to February 2020.

Better wages

Although the data does not yet show workers more willing to voluntarily leave their jobs to find better jobs elsewhere, this firming of the job market is undoubtedly not unrelated to the acceleration of the increase in their wages, reports Statistics Canada. From 2.7% over 12 months last December and 2.4% in January, the increase in the average hourly wage now stood at 3.1% in February. However, this remains well below the increase in the cost of living, with the Consumer Price Index increasing at the same time by 4.8% in December, and even by 5.1% last month.

In Quebec, the acceleration in the increase in earnings appears to be a little stronger, its Institute of Statistics reported on Fridaydue to an increase in one year of the average hourly wage of 2.2% in December, 3.5% in January and 4.5% last month.

“Job creation will be slower over the next few months because the scarcity of labor makes recruitment particularly difficult,” said Joëlle Noreau, economist at Mouvement Desjardins, in a brief analysis. “We will also have to see to what extent Quebec and Ontario will be affected by the economic slowdown that could result from the clashes between Russia and Ukraine. In terms of uncertainties, this war takes over from COVID-19. »

For many analysts, this picture of the job market, which is even better than expected, opens the door wide to further interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada, after a first hike of a quarter of a percentage point in its key rate 10 days ago.

“An ultra-tight job market, inflationary overheating, soaring commodity prices and a hot real estate market… All of this suggests that the Bank will go ahead with additional rate hikes despite ‘a darkening of the outlook for global growth,’ said Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter.

“From a domestic perspective, it is clear that our policy makers today face an economy that has reached full employment,” he continued, adding that this should give the federal government pause as well. whether to include economic stimulus measures in its next budget.

To see in video

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.