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Surge in part-time work offsets full-time losses, helps drops unemployment rate

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OTTAWA — The economy generated 54,100 net new jobs last month and saw its unemployment rate fall — but the headline improvements overshadowed weaker details: a rush of new part-time, public sector positions and a drop in full-time work.

The overall July increase in jobs pushed the unemployment rate back to its four-decade low of 5.8 per cent, down from six per cent the previous month, Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey said Friday.

But a closer look at the numbers revealed that the country gained 82,000 less desirable, part-time positions last month — and it lost 28,000 full-time jobs. The public sector made the biggest contribution to the July increase with 49,600 new jobs, while the private sector added 5,200 positions.

Average hourly wage growth, which is scrutinized by the Bank of Canada, continued its gradual cool-off last month with a year-over-year reading of 3.2 per cent. In June, it expanded 3.6 per cent and in May the figure was 3.9 per cent, which marked a nine-year high.

The total number of hours worked in July expanded 1.3 per cent, a slightly slower pace than the June reading of 1.4 per cent.

“In the wacky world of Canada’s monthly employment numbers, July came up with another head scratcher, with some big headlines but some disappointments in the fine print,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote Friday in a research note to clients.

Shenfeld added that there are “lots of reasons to question just how good the data really are here.”

But overall he said the report contained a “good” set of numbers that will keep markets guessing whether the Bank of Canada will introduce its next interest rate hike in September or October. CIBC predicts the next rate increase will land in October as the central bank continues to proceed cautiously along its rate-hiking path.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter also wrote about the jobs numbers in a research note: “Today’s job report is a classic case of ‘nice headlines, shame about the details.’ While we would still give the overall result a passing grade, it’s tough to get overly enthusiastic.”

By industry, the goods-producing sector lost 36,500 jobs in July, with a notable loss of 18,400 positions in manufacturing and a drop of 12,300 in construction.

The services sector saw strong gains last month with a combined net increase of 90,500 jobs, which was led by 30,700 positions in health care and social assistance as well as 36,500 in education.

Both Shenfeld and Porter underlined those big gains in education as signs the July numbers are likely weaker than they look at first glance. Porter noted that, in the past, summertime education employment boosts have often been reversed in the ensuing months.

National Bank of Canada chief economist Stefane Marion wrote in a report Friday that the public sector is the “only game in town” so far in 2018. Marion’s research note was titled: “Where are the private sector jobs?”

Across the provinces, Ontario gained 60,600 jobs — all in part-time work — and the unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percentage points to 5.4 per cent for its lowest reading since July 2000. The education jobs fuelled much of the gain in Ontario, Statistics Canada said.

Employment also rose in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba lost jobs last month.

More women between the ages of 25 and 54 years old were working in July as the category saw a gain of 30,300 jobs.

The youth unemployment rate — representing workers aged 15 to 24 years old — fell to 11.1 per cent, down from 11.7 per cent in June. The report said the main cause of the drop was due to the fact fewer young people were looking for work.

Compared with a year earlier, overall employment was up 1.3 per cent following the addition of 245,900 jobs for an increase driven by 210,500 new full-time positions.

In an interview, Shenfeld added that “for the past year, Canadians have certainly been enjoying a very solid labour market with a low unemployment rate and that’s still true in the latest data.”

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


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Woman and her dog lost for 72 hours in B.C. woods are found safe

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INVERMERE, B.C. — A 52-year-old woman and her dog are both safe and unharmed after wandering lost for 72 hours in the thick woods in southeastern B.C.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Newel says Louise Baxter hopped off a rescue helicopter Wednesday, hugged her husband and was talking and laughing with her rescuers.

Baxter went out for a hike with friends in the Jumbo Pass area on Sunday, but she disappeared after taking her leashed dog out for what she said would be a short walk.

Newel says Baxter appears to have become disoriented shortly after leaving her friends and then heading down the mountain, moving “west when she probably should have been heading east.”

The dog, a golden poodle named Maverick, was with her the whole time and Newel says the animal is also in good health. 

At the height of the search, there were three helicopters, four search dogs, a drone and 35 search and rescue volunteers looking for the woman in the difficult, mountainous terrain.

Newel, who was the incident commander for the search, said Baxter saw the search helicopters and tried to flag them down, but no one saw her.

“But if anybody’s every been in a helicopter, trying spot a person in forested area is extremely difficult and a lot harder than you would think,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “I can’t imagine the emotion that would have gone through her seeing these helicopters and not be able to signal them in some sort of way.”

Baxter is an avid hiker, Newel said, adding the general rule of thumb for those who get lost in the woods is to stay put. Baxter did stay in one place for a while but proceeded down the mountain because she thought help wasn’t coming, he said.

“But she was working further and further out from the primary search area.”

He said she found water along the way and ate berries, but didn’t have anything else to eat.

“I couldn’t believe when she walked off that helicopter and practically ran to her husband,” Newel added.

 

The Canadian Press


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Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

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VICTORIA — The Green party will not run a candidate against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the riding of Burnaby South.

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the House of Commons in an unopposed byelection.

She says in a statement the Greens believe it is right to step aside to allow the leader of “an important part of the political spectrum” to serve in Parliament.

Singh announced his candidacy for the federal riding after New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart indicated he was stepping aside to run for mayor of Vancouver.

The Liberal and Conservative parties have not announced candidates in the riding, but the Liberals have said they will contest the byelection.

May received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova. She extended the same gesture to Dion.

In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a byelection held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.

No date has been set for a byelection.

Singh sat in Ontario’s legislature and served as the provincial NDP’s deputy leader before he replaced Tom Mulcair as the federal leader.

The Canadian Press


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