OTTAWA — Canada’s unpredictable labour market delivered another big surprise in May, piling on 95,000 jobs — the biggest monthly jump in 11 years — and pushing the unemployment rate down to its lowest level in four months.
Most of the new jobs last month were full-time positions, and nearly all created in the private sector, Statistics Canada said Friday. The unemployment rate declined to 7.1% — matching the level in December 2012 — from 7.2% in April.
Economists had expected gains of just 10,000 to 15,000 in May, with the jobless rate unchanged from the previous month. The May employment surge was the largest since August 2002.
The private sector created 94,600 jobs last month, while the public sector added just 6,600 positions.
Most of the hiring activity in May came from the service producing sector, which added 64,700 jobs. Statistics Canada said these included new hires in trade, transportation and warehousing, as well as business, building and other support service.
Construction rebounded from a flat performance in April — likely related to the cold weather conditions — adding 42,700 jobs last month. The volatile manufacturing sector, however, shed 14,200 positions after gaining 20,600 in April.
May’s hiring surge came after a meager increase of 12,500 jobs the previous month. But the see-saw employment pattern saw a plunge of 54,500 jobs March, wiping out the 50,700 gain in February.
Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said the labour force report “seems to be ever more volatile.”
May’s gains were broadly based, he said, with the only negative was a drop in factory jobs. “All told, a pleasant surprise after a string of generally soft job gains in the prior six months.”
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday’s report was “a very encouraging sign.”
“While May’s job gains were great news, we have to keep in mind that these numbers vary considerably from month to month — and we shouldn’t focus too much on one month,” he said in a statement.
“What’s more important is the positive long-trend when it comes to employment in Canada.”
Gordon Isfeld | 13/06/07