Growing labour force pushes Ottawa's unemployment rate up to 4.4% in November

ottawa

The region’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly in November as a rise in the size of the labour force outpaced a slight increase in the overall number of workers, the latest figures from Statistics Canada show.

Ottawa-Gatineau’s jobless rate rose to 4.4 per cent last month, up from 4.2 per cent in October, the agency said in its latest labour market report. Although total employment in the region grew by 1,300 jobs to pass the 800,000 mark, the overall size of the labour force ​– which includes people looking for work ​– jumped by 2,500.

Job figures in most sectors held steady in November. Education experienced the biggest gain, adding 4,800 new positions to grow to 63,200 workers. The region’s largest sector, public administration, employed 176,900 people last month, up 2,600 from October, while the retail industry added 1,100 new jobs to stand at 96,700.

Meanwhile, the professional services sector shed 3,800 positions last month (falling to 81,600), while Ottawa-Gatineau’s tech sector – one of the main drivers of the local economy – shrunk by 2,600 jobs to employ 45,800 workers, its lowest total since April.

Nationally, the Canadian economy posted its biggest monthly job loss since the financial crisis as the unemployment rate also pushed higher in November.

Statistics Canada said the economy lost 71,200 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.9 per cent, its highest point since August 2018 when it hit six per cent.

Economists on average had expected a gain of 10,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 5.5 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The loss in jobs came as both full-time and part-time employment moved lower. The number of full-time jobs fell by 38,400, while part-time employment fell 32,800.

The goods-producing sector lost 26,600 jobs in the month as the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 27,500 jobs and the natural resources sector shed 6,500.

Meanwhile, the services sector lost 44,400 jobs as the number of public administration jobs fell by 24,900 jobs in November.

Regionally, Quebec lost 45,100 jobs in November due to a decline in manufacturing as well as accommodation and food services. Alberta and B.C. both lost 18,200 jobs.

Compared with November last year, the economy has added 293,000 jobs.

The jobs report followed a decision by the Bank of Canada earlier this week to keep its key interest rate on hold at 1.75 per cent, where it has been set for more than a year.

In making its decision, the central bank said the Canadian economy has remained resilient despite the global uncertainty caused by the trade war between the United States and China.

The Bank of Canada has stood out from many of its international peers that have moved to cut rates and loosen monetary policy in response to weakness in the global economy. The U.S. Federal Reserve has cut its rate three times this year.

– With files from the Canadian Press