OTTAWA: Canadian employment growth slowed in November amid a second COVID-19 wave, with 62,000 net new jobs created, but the unemployment rate continued to fall from its peak, the government statistical agency said Friday. Employment was up 0.3 percent in the month, following increases of 0.5 percent in October and an average of 2.7 percent per month from May to September, said Statistics Canada.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell 0.4 percentage points to 8.5 percent, continuing a steady decline from the record high 13.7 percent in May, and beating analyst forecasts. A lockdown in the spring to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness had put three million Canadians out of work. By November the total number of unemployed Canadians fell to 1.7 million. Many people struggling to find work, however, dropped out of the labor market.
According to Statistics Canada, November employment fell in industries most directly affected by public health restrictions such as in accommodation and food services. On the other hand, it approached or exceeded pre-pandemic levels where working from home or physical distancing was more feasible, including professional, scientific and technical services, the agency said.
Most of the new jobs were full-time. Employment increased for women and those under 24, and declined slightly for men. Some 4.6 million Canadians worked from home.
New hospital and school hires mostly drove a small uptick in public sector employment. Employment growth, meanwhile, resumed in construction, transportation and warehousing. It rose for the third consecutive month in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing sectors to surpass pre-pandemic levels. The resources sector also bounced back, as did retail trade-but the latter was predicted to drop in December as some regions imposed new Covid-19 measures on restaurants, recreational facilities and retail businesses. Self-employment as a group remained furthest from pre-pandemic levels, down 4.7 percent.
Canada’s trade deficit remained virtually unchanged at Can$3.8 billion (US$3.0 billion) in October, the government statistical agency said Friday. Its imports and exports since a surge in July-after a spring COVID-19 lockdown was lifted-have shifted slightly away from its top partner the United States.
According to Statistics Canada, trade with the United States in October was 0.3 percent below July levels, while with other countries it rose 10.6 percent. The largest recent increases in imports were from China and South Korea, while Britain and the Netherlands contributed the most to growth in exports. As a result, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States widened from Can$1.7 billion in September to Can$3.0 billion in October.
Total exports increased 2.2 percent to Can$46.5 billion-below pre-pandemic levels-with growth in consumer goods partially driven by a rebound in foreign sales of pharmaceutical products (+39 percent). Notably more medications for treating psoriasis were sent to the United States, after a plunge in September of anti-depressants also shipped to its southern neighbor.
Crude oil and natural gas exports were also up in October, while exports of motor vehicles and parts fell. Despite the monthly decline, export of autos and light trucks in October were higher than in February. Total imports, meanwhile, rose 1.9 percent to Can$46.5 billion, exceeding the February level for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
This was due in part to higher imports of cell phones as new models were introduced outside the typical release cycle. Imports of appliances, clothing and footwear also rose. But imports of gold and silver fell. Despite this monthly drop, imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products reached record levels so far in 2020, up fivefold from the same period last year. – AFP