The Canadian economy adds 19,400 jobs, unemployment ticks up slightly

Canadian job creation in March shattered most economists’ predictions, but it’s not all good news. Which regions and sectors saw gains, and who took a hit?

While most experts had forecast modest growth of roughly 5,000 new jobs for last month, the latest Statistics Canada data released this morning shows that we actually gained 19,400 new jobs. The bulk of these were full-time positions.

The overall national unemployment rate still managed to tick up a tenth of a percent to 6.7 per cent, as more people were looking for work. This is actually an encouraging reason for unemployment to go up. Labour force participation is positive sign.

(Sometimes the opposite phenomenon happens: unemployment goes down, not because of job creation, but because discouraged people have simply given up looking and dropped off the labour force participation numbers. That indicates a grim labour market.)

March’s addition of over 19 thousand jobs marks the fourth month in a row of positive job creation. (February’s 6.6 per cent unemployment rate was actually the lowest that Canada has seen since the great recession of 2008.)

In March, employment increased for men aged 25 to 54, while there was little change among other demographic groups.


Employment rose in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba in March. Alberta that had the greatest employment gains, adding 20,700 full-time jobs. At the same time, there were fewer jobs in Saskatchewan. Employment in the other provinces was relatively flat in last month.

British Columbia currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 5.4 per cent. NFLD has the highest.

Current unemployment rates

    Newfoundland and Labrador – 14.9 per cent
    Prince Edward Island – 10.1
    Nova Scotia 8.6 – per cent
    New Brunswick – 8.4 per cent
    Quebec 6.4 – per cent
    Ontario 6.4 – per cent
    Manitoba 5.5 – per cent
    Saskatchewan – 6.0 per cent
    Alberta 8.4 – per cent
    British Columbia – 5.4 per cent


The March employment numbers indicate that more people were working in manufacturing; business, building and other support services; wholesale and retail trade; and information, culture and recreation.

The manufacturing sector added 24,400 positions – largely in Ontario with some growth seen in Alberta as well. While that is a positive sign for manufacturing, there were still about 630,000 (or -27 per cent) fewer people working in in this sector than there were at its peak in the early 2000s. Employment in manufacturing has been relatively flat since the 2008-2009 recession.

March saw fewer jobs in educational services; transportation and warehousing; “other services”; and public administration.

The current national average salary is just over $50,000. Here is how much most jobs pay in this country by region and industry.

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