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Jun 8, 2018

Canada shed 7,500 jobs in May, but saw 'shocker' wage growth

Canada unexpectedly shed 7,500 jobs in May, led lower by B.C.

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Canada lost jobs for a second month in May, a surprise sign of weakness in a booming job market that's seeing the fastest wage gains in a decade with unemployment holding at record lows.

The number of jobs declined by 7,500 in May after a 1,100 drop in April, while the unemployment rate held at 5.8 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 23,500 job increase and an unchanged jobless rate.

Overall wages rose 3.9 per cent in May from a year ago, the fastest since April 2009, and the number of hours worked climbed by 2 per cent.

"The shocker there is that wage growth number of 3.9 per cent," said Frances Donald, senior economist with Manulife Asset Management, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Friday. "So economists are going to spend  today diving into those details to see what the minimum wage increase impact is on that." 

"But I can pretty much guarantee that the Bank of Canada's number-one focus today is going to be that strong wage growth and whether it means that we are going to be seeing inflation moving forward," she added. "It probably, in my mind, cements a July rate hike from the Bank of Canada right off the top, right there." 

The job declines are small in a country that has added 238,200 new positions over the past year. The wage gains, meanwhile, answer one of Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz's lingering concerns around an economy that otherwise appears to be near full capacity. The job market is expected to remain strong this year with unemployment holding close to record lows, as companies struggle to keep up with rising demand.

Industrial company capacity utilization climbed to 86.1 per cent in the first quarter, the highest since 2006, Statistics Canada said in a separate report. It was the seventh consecutive gain.

The central bank is expected to raise interest rates at its next meeting in July after three moves over the past year. Poloz on Thursday said there are signs of a “solid” expansion.

- With files from BNN Bloomberg 

Highlights

-Full-time employment fell by 31,000 in May, and part-time work increased by 23,600. Similar to the overall trend, the full-time losses give back a small part of the 289,700 gain over the past year

-Goods-producing industries led the declines, including 18,300 in manufacturing and 13,000 in construction. Services employment rose by 21,500

-The labour force participation rate of 65.3 per cent is the lowest since October 1998

-Canada hasn't reported back-to-back job declines since the end of 2014

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