Canada’s labour market shed jobs for the second time in three months in September, sending a clear signal that the economy has slowed after a strong start from recession.
The loss was tiny — a statistically insignificant 6,600 jobs — but it shows that the economy, which had once been churning out jobs at a rate of over 50,000 a month during the first half of the year, has ground to a halt.
Statistics Canada says averaging the last three months, employment barely crawled forward by about 7,000 jobs a month on average, half of what analysts believe is needed just to keep up with population growth.
The unemployment rate surprisingly dropped one-tenth of a point to eight per cent, but the agency said that only occurred because fewer people, particularly youth, were actively looking for work last month.
Young workers, those between 15 and 24 years of age, were the most noticeable victims of the slowdown, with employment in this category falling by 41,900, many in Ontario.
Economists had been predicting a tepid jobs month, keeping with an economy that registered the first monthly contraction this summer in almost a year. But they were looking for a modest 10,000 pick-up, and the unemployment rate to stay put at 8.1 per cent.
The biggest losses came in Ontario, where there were almost 23,000 fewer people working in September than the previous month, all in the retail sector.
The agency said there was some good news — full-time work increased by 37,000, reversing a recent trend, and part-time work fell 43,700.
There were minor gains in the key industries of manufacturing and construction, but employment in professional, scientific and technical services fell by about 32,000.
The largest gains came in transportation and warehousing, which reported an increase of 15,000.
Regionally, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all registered contraction.
Quebec, however, saw employment rise by 15,200 and its jobless rate fall half-a-point to 7.7. Newfoundland also saw its employment picture improve, gaining 4,900 jobs, which shaved its jobless rate a similar amount to 13.5 per cent.