Canada Employment Growth Slows in February as Full-time Employment Shrinks

Canada Employment Growth Slows in February as Full-time Employment Shrinks
Canada’s economy added jobs for a fifth consecutive month in February, posting a gain that was less than economists forecast as part-time work expanded and full-time positions declined.

Employment rose by 15,100 following an increase of 69,200 in the prior month, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. The jobless rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent. Economists forecast job growth of 25,000 and 7.7 percent unemployment, according to the median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The report comes a day after the country’s trade surplus narrowed more than economists forecast. The Bank of Canada kept its key lending rate at 1 percent at its March 1 announcement and said any interest-rate increases would be carefully considered in a recovery that is “slightly faster” than the central bank forecast.

“The details are a little disappointing, for the first two months of the year you had little growth in private employment and full-time employment,” said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian currency and rates strategy at Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Capital Markets unit in Toronto. The report is still “broadly consistent” with an economic growth rate of about 3 percent, he said.

Canada’s currency fell 0.2 percent to 97.84 cents per U.S. dollar at 7:22 a.m. in Toronto, from 97.60 cents yesterday. Two days ago it touched 96.68 cents, the strongest level since Nov. 15, 2007. One Canadian dollar today buys $1.0220.

Full-time Losses

Part-time employment rose by 38,900 in February, Statistics Canada said, while full-time jobs fell by 23,800. Private companies cut their payrolls by 20,000 and public-sector employment increased by 9,600, the report said.

Self-employment rose by 25,500 in February, while paid employment decreased by 10,400.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said his Conservative government will stay focused on job creation while opposition parties signal they may force an early election following a March 22 budget that Harper has said will avoid major new stimulus measures.

Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party says he may force an election after the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled the government violated lawmakers’ privileges by withholding detailed cost plans of some legislation. Ignatieff has also said he wants to reverse corporate tax cuts that were passed in a previous fiscal plan, and favors boosting the economy by spending more on education and social programs.

Health Care Gains

The health care and social assistance industries led the February jobs gain with a rise of 17,800. Accommodation and food services employment increased by 15,300 and education jobs rose by 13,100, Statistics Canada said.

Employment declined by 34,500 in business, building and other support services, and public administration jobs fell by 13,500.

Average hourly wages advanced 2.5 percent in February from a year earlier, after a 2.6 percent gain in January.

Joblessness in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to 8.9 percent in February, the lowest level in almost two years, and employers boosted payrolls by 192,000, the Labor Department said March 4 in Washington.

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