Canada added 150,000 jobs last month, ten times what economists were expecting

Canada's economy added 150,000 jobs last month, Statistics Canada reported on Friday.  (Anis Heydari/CBC - photo credit)

Canada’s economy added 150,000 jobs last month, Statistics Canada reported on Friday. (Anis Heydari/CBC – photo credit)

Canada’s economy added 150,000 jobs in January, beating expectations for the second straight month.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that most jobs — more than 120,000 — were full-time jobs.

The gains follow an initial report of more than 100,000 jobs in December, a report the data agency later revised down to just 69,000. But that still brings the two-month balance to more than 220,000 new jobs. The January gain was also 10 times the number of jobs economists had been expecting.

All provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick added jobs, but most of the increases were in Ontario and Quebec.

And most of the jobs were in the private sector, which added 132,000 new jobs.

Which sectors saw the largest increases in employment

The construction industry was a leading powerhouse, adding 16,000 new jobs in January. Last year, the construction industry added 114,000 jobs, a growth of more than seven percent, “making construction one of the fastest growing industries over the past 12 months,” the data agency said.

Booming demand in the construction sector comes as no surprise to Jenna Wood, director of human resources at TSX-listed construction company Aecon Inc.

The company needed workers even before the pandemic began, so it launched a training program for women, who are traditionally underrepresented in the industry.

“We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in interest, which is great,” she said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s a great place to be [because] There is a labor shortage that will only increase in the years to come.”

Shawn Benjamin/CBC

Shawn Benjamin/CBC

Lauren Buchanan signed up for the program and she’s loving her choice so far.

“I just like the practical aspect of it. You’re actually out there doing things and time flies when you’re doing things like that,” she told CBC News. “It’s really helpful in the sense that you build a part of your community. You can look at things and say, ‘I built that.’”

Strong demand for labour

Aecon invests in training programs to meet its labor needs, but construction is far from the only sector facing labor shortages.

Staffing firm Robert Half says the majority of the firms it deals with plan to hire full-time staff in the next six months, which is an encouraging sign for anyone looking for work or a better-paying job.

“We’re hearing about some layoffs at some big tech companies, but we’re also hearing about a lot of small and medium-sized companies that are struggling to attract high-quality talent,” the company’s national director, Michael French, told CBC News in an interview.

“Even if there is some headwind, we find that the job market is still very, very strong. Managers are not finding the people they want.”

Strong labor demand is driving wages higher, with the average hourly wage hitting $33.01 during the month. That’s up $1.42 over the past year, a 4.5 percent increase. That’s a decent increase by historical standards, but it still falls short of the 6.3 percent increase in the cost of living last year.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Marwa Abdou said the strong job gains showed fears that Canada’s economy was on the brink of recession were overdone.

“January’s Blockbuster Jobs Report is a testament to the fact that the Canadian job market is still a great place to be,” Abdou said. “The big takeaway from this morning’s data is that calls for a recession…will have to wait.”


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