Canada posts first net job gains since March, with most in agriculture and mining post
CANADA’S unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level since March after the country posted the first net gain in more than three years, according to data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada.
The jobs report, released by the agency’s National Statistics office, showed the unemployment rate dropped to 6.4 per cent in the country’s most populous province of Alberta from 6.8 per cent on March 16.
The jobless rate in Alberta was the lowest since October 2014.
The unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent, up from 6 per cent a month earlier.
The province added 11,000 jobs in March, its fastest pace in seven years, and it added 5,000 more in April.
The numbers also show that the province added the lowest number of people to the labour force since November 2009, when the rate dropped below 5 per cent.
“The economy has moved in a new direction, and Alberta is showing us the signs of it,” said Jason Kenney, Alberta’s finance minister.
He said the province is now well on its way to balancing its budget.
“We are going to have to make sure we are not overburdened,” he said.
“Our fiscal health is the key to the economy, and that will be the key when we come back in the fall.”
The unemployment is a major concern for the province’s largest city, Calgary, which has been reeling since the oil price slump in March and a series of wildfires in the region that has left more than 20,000 people homeless.
The economy is also hurting Alberta’s oil-producing province of Saskatchewan, which is the largest in the world.
The number of layoffs in the province increased to a record of 2,000 in March from 1,800 in March.
The downturn in oil prices has led to the closure of many industries and the closure and postponement of a major train crossing in the U.S. Midwest, which also has forced the shutdown of many other major railroads in Canada.
Statistics Canada has said the downturn in the oil market is expected to be a key driver of the decline in employment and has warned that the economic slowdown will likely last until the end of 2018.