Canada sheds 35,700 jobs in November, unemployment rate up to 7.1%

The Canadian economy lost nearly 36,000 jobs in November as the armies of part-time workers hired for the October federal election were let go.

Statistics Canada says the number of public administration jobs fell by 32,500 last month, almost matching October’s increase in the same category.

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“The November decline in public administration was seen across all provinces,” Statistics Canada said. “The decrease was concentrated among survey interviewers and statistical clerks, an occupational group that corresponds with the type of work done during the election.”

The job losses, which were almost four times larger than the 10,000 that economists had been expecting, forced the national unemployment rate up slightly to 7.1 per cent, from seven per cent in October.

While the economy lost a total of 72,000 part-time jobs last month, it also added 36,000 full-time workers. That had Scotiabank economist Derek Holt saying the November report was not as bad as it might seem.

“It does suggest the underlying details are not as bad as the headline reading imply and that the composition of job growth is still mostly favourable,” he wrote in a morning commentary.

Alberta lost nearly 15,000 jobs last month and its jobless rate jumped 4/10ths of a percentage point to 7.0 per cent, as the oil-related slump continued to take a toll.

That was the biggest decline in employment among the provinces and leaves Alberta’s unemployment rate at a five-year high.

Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also lost jobs, while employment in other provinces was relatively unchanged.

Canadian Unemployment in November
Contrast with U.S.

Several economists noted the stark contrast with the United States, where the economy added a solid 211,000 jobs last month.

“In a world where the U.S. economy is churning out 200,000 job gains per month without breaking a sweat, and oil prices are barely holding above $40 US, the Canadian dollar will struggle for some time yet,” said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

“The overall picture [in Canada] is one of an economy struggling to post consistent gains and likely headed for sub-par GDP growth in Q4,” he said.

David Madani, of Capital Economics, saw further weakness in Friday’s other economic data releases, pointing to reports that Canada’s exports fell 1.8 per cent in October and the country’s trade deficit with the rest of the world widened by $500 million to $2.8 billion.

“Accordingly, we still think that more policy stimulus will be needed eventually, both from monetary and fiscal policymakers,” Madani said.

One piece of encouraging news from the labour report related to what appears to be a long-awaited comeback in manufacturing employment. Statistics Canada said the country added 17,400 manufacturing jobs in November — the first significant increase since May.