Unemployment rate in Medicine Hat rises in January

Dianna Christensen
February 10, 2018

It gained approximately 8,500 full-time positions but lost roughly 59,300 part-time gigs, according to data provided by the agency, which noted the figures are rounded.

The local job market is in contrast with the national picture as Canada's unemployment rate rose to 5.9 per cent in January, up from 5.7 per cent in December 2017. The loss reflects a record loss of 137,000 part-time jobs and a gain of 49,000 full-time jobs.

While that is lower than the national number, the dollar amount of $27.83 in Ontario is higher than for all of Canada at $27.46 for January, said Gordon Song, an analyst with Statistics Canada, in an email.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 per cent in January.

Employment declines were seen across the field, from low-paying jobs in warehousing, retail and wholesale to lucrative areas of professional, scientific and technical services. That put about 500 people temporarily out of work, although some of those have since been recalled.

"Kathleen Wynne's only objective with her minimum wage hike was to hold onto power and as a result, things are getting worse", he said.

"Quite frankly, we were overdue for a bad number".

Don't blame the minimum-wage hike just yet. The unemployment rate remains at 5.5 percent.

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"Market participants are getting schooled in the ways of Canada's employment numbers, and the lesson seems to be that when they're too good to be true, they might not be", CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld said in a note.

It "may be a sign of adjustments made by corporations coping with a minimum wage surge", he said, noting young people ages 15 to 24 lost 24,000 part-time positions.

Wage growth also received a boost in January, a month that saw Ontario lift its minimum wage.

"This is a mixed bag for the Bank of Canada because we did see a significant rise in wage inflation ... which might counter the disappointment on the headline jobs count", Shenfeld said.

Canada shed a net 88,000 jobs during the month, a sharp stop to a recent stellar performance that saw 2017 produce the biggest increase in jobs since 2002.

North American wage growth is raising its own concerns, however.

Overall, the latest labour market data "bring the job market back down to Earth, and reinforces the view that the Bank of Canada will proceed ultra-cautiously through the rest of this year", Porter wrote.

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