Canada’s economy adds 106,500 jobs, most in a month since 1976

Canada’s labour market delivered a surprise Friday with its biggest one-month employment surge since 1976, when the government started collecting comparable data.

The country added 106,500 net jobs in April, and the bulk of them were full time, Statistics Canada said in its latest labour force survey.

The unexpected increase helped drop the unemployment rate to 5.7 per cent last month, from 5.8 per cent in March.

The labour market has seen strong employment numbers since mid-2016 and has remained a bright spot for an economy that has struggled in other areas — to the point it almost stalled over the winter.

Employment grew 0.6 per cent with the April increase —  the highest proportional monthly expansion since 1994.

Numbers far outstrip estimates

Economists had expected a gain of 10,000 jobs for the month and the unemployment rate to remain at 5.8 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

A closer look at the April numbers reveals the overall gain was driven by the creation of 73,000 full-time jobs and 83,800 positions in the private sector. 

Compared with a year earlier, Canada added 426,400 jobs for a proportional increase of 2.3 per cent. The labour market has created an average of 36,000 jobs per month over the past year.

Chalk this one up as a solid message that employers still have faith in the Canadian economy.- Brian DePratto, senior economist, TD Economics

Year over year, average hourly wage growth for all employees in April was 2.5 per cent, up from a reading of 2.4 per cent for March. Wage growth is a key indicator monitored by the Bank of Canada ahead of its interest rate decisions.

“Nearly every indicator of quality came in strong this month: The best-ever gain came with solid full-time job growth, all in employees — rather than self-employed — more Canadians were drawn into labour markets and wages were up,” said Brian DePratto, senior economist for TD Economics, in a written statement about the results.

“Chalk this one up as a solid message that employers still have faith in the Canadian economy.”  

Avery Shenfeld, managing director and chief economist of CIBC Capital Markets, told CBC News that the economy does seem to have some “spring in its step.”

“It’s hard to take seriously that we gained 100,000 or more jobs in a single month, but there’s undoubtedly some truth to the idea that the weakness we’ve seen in the economy in the past two quarters is giving way to a better pace to growth as the weather and some other segments of the economy improve,” Shenfeld said.

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