Unemployment rate in Medicine Hat rises in January

By Doug Collins  The Canadian Press

By Doug Collins The Canadian Press

In the Labour Force Survey for January 2018, Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy saw 88,000 jobs lost during the month, an abrupt halt to the "stellar performance" that saw 2017 produce the biggest increase in jobs since 2002.

But on the other hand, the agency says the economy generated 49,000 full-time positions last month.

In the province, average hourly wage rates for permanent employees in January rose 3.19 per cent from the same time past year.

Ontario hiked minimum wage by some 20 per cent to $14 per hour at the beginning of the year, a move some economists said could result in mass job losses as employers look to reduce costs.

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Porter said there were some special factors in January including the minimum wage hike in Ontario, harsh winter weather which affected construction and an inevitable pullback after exceptionally strong job growth in 2017.

The unemployment rate for Nova Scotia in January was 8.2 per cent, up 0.2 per cent from December. "Overall, a mysterious mix of good and bad, with the latter's impact blunted by how strong job gains were in the lead-up to these figures", CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote in a commentary.

Some economists said it's possible Ontario's minimum wage increase played a role in those declines, but noted it's important not to read too much into one month of data. She cited the full-time job gain, faster wages and a low unemployment rate as signs of a resilient labor market.

Although Ontario shed 51,000 jobs in January, Statistics Canada data suggest the losses are not attributable to the province's decision to raise the minimum hourly rate to $14 from $11.60 last month. The unemployment rate remains at 5.5 percent. While the unemployment rate in December was 8.6 per cent, month-over-month comparisons are hard to make as data is unadjusted for seasonal differences that can influence each month.

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"We also need to watch to see if our community is affected by the loss of part-time work like elsewhere in Ontario".

With files from the Canadian Press.

"It doesn't change the broader narrative around the Bank of Canada".

That marked the steepest monthly decline in nine years and followed a year of torrid job creation. "At the very least, we can dismiss any chance the Bank hikes [interest rates] in March, and April is now looking more like a long shot as well".

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