Employment climbs again in March

'This job market never seems to run out of gas'

Employment climbs again in March

Employment rose by 35,000 (0.2 per cent) in March, while the unemployment rate held steady at five per cent.

Employment has generally trended up since September 2022, with the number of people employed increasing by 383,000 (1.9 per cent), says Statistics Canada.

Employment gains in March were concentrated among private sector employees (up 35,000 or 0.3 per cent) while there was little change in the number of public sector employees and self-employed workers.

“This job market never seems to run out of gas,” says Indeed senior economist Brendon Bernard.

“Similar to recent months, the unemployment rate held low and steady. Instead, job growth was mainly driven by solid population growth. Hours worked rose even faster than employment, confirming the solid headline numbers.”

Wage growth

Average hourly wages rose 5.3 per cent ($1.68 to $33.12) on a year-over-year basis in March, compared with 5.4 per cent in February (not seasonally adjusted).

As with recent reports, wage growth remained front and center, says Bernard.

“Hourly earnings continued to chug above a five per cent year-over-year pace. This persistence stands in contrast to signs of softer employer demand. However, between the tug of war between fewer job vacancies, with the cumulative tightening of the Canadian labour market over the past year, as the key driver of wage trends, the latter continues to win out.”

This is good news for Canadian workers, he says, if inflation can continue to move in the right direction, “but recent strength in prices in the US suggests we can’t breathe easy yet.”

Sectoral, regional changes

There were more people employed in transportation and warehousing (41,000 or 4.2 per cent); business, building and other support services (31,000 or 4.4 per cent); as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (19,000 or 1.3 per cent), says Statistics Canada in its Labour Force Survey.

At the same time, employment declined in construction (down 19,000 or 1.2 per cent); "other services" (which includes personal and repair services) (down 11,000 or 1.5 per cent); and natural resources (down 11,000 or 3.2 per cent).

“Big picture, it remains tough to tease out industry-level effects from the Bank of Canada’s tightening cycle,” says Bernard.

Employment increased in Ontario (21,000 or 0.3 per cent), Alberta (14,000 or 0.6 per cent), Manitoba (3,300 or 0.5 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (1,700 or 2.0 per cent).

There were fewer people employed in Saskatchewan (down 4,300 or 0.7 per cent). There was little change in employment in the other provinces.

The federal government has announced it is allowing international graduates with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to qualify for an additional or extended work permit to stay in Canada longer.

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