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Canada: Capital Jobless Rate Drops Below Five Per Cent, Lowest since 2009
Source: http://theprovince.com
Source Date: Friday, April 06, 2018
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement
Country: Canada
Created: Apr 09, 2018

It took nearly a decade but the capital region’s job market has finally returned to its pre-recession strength, at least by one key measure.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the jobless rate in Ottawa-Gatineau tumbled to 4.8 per cent in March from 5.1 per cent in February. This reflected a net gain of 2,600 jobs while the labour force, which includes people looking for work, grew by just 400.

It was the first time since January 2009 that the region’s unemployment rate registered less than five per cent, something that used to be a common occurrence in 2008 before the global credit crisis triggered an economic recession.

Yet, while the jobless rate has returned to former levels, there have been profound changes in the shape of the region’s workforce.

Consider what happened during the decade between last month and March 2008, when Ottawa-Gatineau also enjoyed an unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent.

While the number of jobs grew 9.5 per cent over the decade, virtually the same as the labour force, the region’s working-age population increased nearly 17 per cent. Yet the jobless rate hasn’t soared. The reason: The number of people seeking work has dropped significantly.

A decade ago, 72.5 per cent of working age residents was either employed or seeking work. Last month, just 68 per cent were part of the labour force, with many opting for school, early retirement or perhaps just waiting until better jobs come along before re-entering the labour force.

Had the participation rate (as it’s known) remained at 72.5 per cent, the size of the region’s workforce last month would have been 826,000 instead of 774,000.  This means in order to keep the jobless rate steady, the region would have had to create an additional 50,000 jobs.

There was job creation, just not enough of it. The region added 64,000 net new jobs over the past decade while the working age population increased by 165,000.

The biggest increases in hiring took place in health services (up 30,000 over the decade), hotels & restaurants (up 19,500) and education (up 16,000). At the same time, employment levels in public administration declined slightly and the number of high-tech jobs fell by 10,000 — due, in large part, to the unraveling of Nortel Networks, once the region’s largest private-sector employer.

Meanwhile, nationally the labour market showed strength in March, adding 32,300 jobs led by the construction industry.

Despite the growth, the unemployment rate held at a 30-year-low of 5.8 per cent.

(By James Bagnall)
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