Canadian Job Market March 2012: Employment Data DéJà Vu

Canadian Job Market March 2012

After two months of virtually no growth, Canada’s job market came roaring back in March with 82,300 new jobs created, many of which were full time positions in hard hit Ontario and Quebec. Canada’s unemployment rate also fell for the first time this year. It now stands at 7.2 per cent.

So what does this mean for Canada’s economy? For the short term it shows things are improving. But don’t expect this to last.

The Canadian Government remains cautious

Already Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is predicting Canada will post moderate economic growth this year. He points out the country’s recovery remains fragile and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis continues to pose risks to the global economy.

Volatility is the name of this game

The jobs data, like the stock market, for the last 3 years has been unpredictable. This isn’t the first time the labour market has surprised economists and given false hope to Canadians out of work.

Job numbers déjà vu

So…how does this compare to the past? If you look back at September 2011, and April 2011 (both times after months of job losses), the labour market added 61,000 jobs, and 58,000 jobs respectfully. This has been a pattern since the market crash in 2008…a few months of decline or little growth, followed by a strong month.

Simply put, the market is playing catch up and sending mixed signals to those hopeful that a sustainable recovery is here or on its way.

National Bank wants answers from Stats Can

The National Bank’s chief economist, Stéfane Marion, is so worried about the extreme unpredictability of the employment data that he’s asking Statistics Canada to investigate.  Who can blame him for being concerned? The labour reports serve as an important guide to policy for governments, businesses and investors. Employment numbers are not only a lagging indicator, but one of the best ways to keep a gauge on how the economy is doing as whole.

If you’re unemployed

Anyone who has lost their job and is still looking for work probably looks at these numbers with even greater skepticism. During all this turmoil their situation has remained the same…unemployed. But here are some things to consider.

  1. The employment picture is better than last year, up 1.1 per cent.
  2. The hardest hit provinces (Ontario and Quebec), are showing the most potential.
  3. Many of the jobs added in March were full time positions.
  4. Considering re-training? Healthcare and social assistance jobs had the best gains.
  5. Those hardest hit, under 25 and over 55, are seeing an increase in job offers.

In this labour market, it’s good to remain flexible, be willing to adapt quickly and to stay patient and open-minded. It’s the best you can do during this highly unpredictable time.

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