Canada’s job market strengthened for a third-straight month, a sign of strength within the domestic economy even as the spread of coronavirus threatens future growth.

Canadian employment grew by 30,300 in February, beating economist expectations for 11,000 new jobs, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. All of the gains were concentrated in full-time work and the private sector.

At the same time, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to a still low 5.6 per cent in the month, from 5.5 per cent in January. Annual wage gains decelerated slightly to 4.3 per cent from 4.4 per cent in the prior month. Hours worked rose 2.3 per cent on the year and 1.2 per cent on the month.

The relatively solid report comes amid virus-related turmoil that has gripped markets in the past couple of weeks. On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada acted to safeguard the economy against heightening virus concerns by lowering interest rates by 50 basis points to stimulate consumption. The move was part of a broader easing trend among global central banks

  • A third month of a decent jobs gains backs up the view from the Bank of Canada that the labor market remains a bright spot in the domestic economy even while business investment, productivity and exports remain weak. However, as coronavirus concerns intensified at the end of February and into March, there’s a good chance the labor market will weaken in the coming months if business and consumer confidence weaken further
  • The February report may not reflect the full extent of the virus-related slowdown, given it’s based on a household survey only for the week of Feb. 9 to Feb. 15, which is before the height of the turmoil in global markets. While the data is generally healthy, the gains of recent months aren’t likely to last if coronavirus concerns continue to seep into broader consumer and business confidence The report showed a moderate gain in employment but still reflects a deceleration in job growth from the monster employment gains seen in the first half of 2020

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