Ottawa-Gatineau unemployment shrinks to 4.5% in September


The number of people with jobs in Ottawa-Gatineau inched up in September, reversing a three-month trend of falling payrolls and pushing the region’s unemployment rate down slightly, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Employers in the National Capital Region grew their collective payrolls by about 1,000 net jobs last month. That dropped the local employment rate to 4.5 per cent in September, down from 4.7 per cent a month earlier.

Those gains were fuelled largely by the region’s largest employer, the federal government, which added about 2,500 jobs last month and now employs about 139,000 people. Meanwhile, the second-largest employer in Ottawa-Gatineau, the tech sector, shed about 700 positions. Its workforce now stands at 39,400.

Nationally, Canada's job market gained 63,000 positions in September, edging the unemployment rate lower to 5.9 per cent and offsetting job losses in August, StatsCan said.

September's increase in employment was largely driven by gains in part-time work, with part-time jobs up by around 80,000, the agency said in its monthly labour force survey.

The job gains were also almost entirely in Ontario and British Columbia, with little change in the other provinces.

The latest monthly report from Statistics Canada indicates the jobs market remains volatile, after August saw a decline of more than 51,000 positions, raising the unemployment rate to 6.0 per cent, after two months of increases.

On a year-over-year basis, Canada gained 222,000 jobs since September 2017.

Statistics Canada also reported the Canadian international merchandise trade balance improved in August, recording a surplus for the first time since December 2016.

It said imports fell by 2.5 per cent and exports declined 1.1 per cent, producing a surplus of $526 million compared with July's $189-million trade deficit.

The agency's monthly labour force survey found that all of the job gains in September were made by workers in the core 25-to-54 age range, with virtually no change in youth employment. September's youth unemployment rate stood at 11.0 per cent, up by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.

Men in the core age bracket gained the most, adding 34,000 jobs, while women also saw increases of 20,000 positions.

The agency said the number of self-employed Canadians declined by 35,000 after recording an almost equal total increase over the past 12 months.

Many of the jobs were found in construction, up by 28,000 in September, reversing two previous monthly declines.

Around 13,000 jobs were added in finance, insurance, real estate and rental and leasing, mostly in Ontario and Alberta.

Employment increased by about 12,000 in the public sector, which has seen a rise of about 20,000 jobs overall since last September.

The agriculture sector also saw gains of about 9,000 jobs, offsetting continuous declines seen since May.

​– With reporting by the Canadian Press