Employment up for 6th-straight month

Posted on February 6, 2010 in Economy/Employment

TheStar.com – Business
February 6, 2010.   Emily Mathieu

Ontario is showing signs of economic recovery, but many workers remain underemployed, says a BMO Capital Markets economist.

“Ontario was arguably hardest-hit during the recession and we are now starting to see some of the clearer signs of improvement,” deputy chief economist Douglas Porter said of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday.

According to the survey, employment in Ontario increased for the sixth month in a row.

While the province reported that 30,000 more people were employed, compared with the previous month, the jobless rate remained unchanged at 9.2 per cent, according to the survey.

“The labour force has expanded. This is why the unemployment rate remained unchanged,” said Stats-Can labour analyst Judy Hosein. “I think, for Ontario, we can say safely it is good news.”

Since July, the province has reported employment has increased by 51,000 jobs.

Porter said Ontario still has “a fairly deep hole to dig out of … but we have seen relatively steady gains in provincial employment since it bottomed out last May.

“Our view is we are in the early states of an economic recovery and that will result in job gains over the year,” said Porter. Unemployment is “still too high for comfort, but it is moving in the right direction,” he said.

Ontario accounted for more than half of the employment gains across the country, followed by British Columbia and Manitoba. Only Nova Scotia reported a decline. The rest of the provinces remained the same.

Nationally, 43,000 jobs were created in January – all part-time – lowering the country’s unemployment rate 0.1 per cent to 8.3 per cent.

Full-time employment showed little change, but has trended up during the past year, according to the report. Despite last month’s increase, national employment levels remain 280,000 below October 2008 levels.

Porter noted that the fact the gains are almost entirely in part-time employment means there are still a significant number of people who are underemployed, or working in a job beneath their skill set.

“We have to walk before we run,” said Porter. “It’s fair to say that, in any recession, the unemployment rate doesn’t give a full picture of how weak the job market is, and that’s true again in this cycle.”

Most of the employment gains were driven by women between the ages of 25 to 54. Employment among women has been on a slight upward trend, with an increase of 32,000 for those between the ages of 25 to 54 in January and an unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent, StatsCan said. The biggest gains were in business, building and other support services.

The jobless rate for core-age men was 7.9 per cent – almost unchanged since the summer – with the biggest losses in professional, scientific and technical services.

The report also showed “the first notable increase for youth since the start of the employment downturn in the fall of 2008.” In January, employment for people between 15 and 24 was up 29,000, lowering that group’s unemployment rate to 15.1 per cent, down from 16 per cent.

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