Region’s unemployment rate falls to 4.6% in November as labour force shrinks

Jobs employment

Ottawa-Gatineau’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 per cent last month as the labour force shrank while the local economy continued to add jobs.

Employers in the National Capital Region added a net 1,900 people to their payrolls in November, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Meanwhile, the region’s labour force — which includes unemployed people who are actively seeking work — numbered 300 fewer residents last month than in October, when the jobless rate was 4.9 per cent.

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Nationally, Canada’s unemployment rate ticked up to 5.8 per cent last month, as high interest rates weigh on job creation at a time when the country’s population is growing rapidly.

Statistics Canada released its November labour force survey Friday, showing the economy added a modest 25,000 jobs.

Manufacturing and construction saw the largest gains in employment, while the most jobs were shed in wholesale and retail trade as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing.

The unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent in October.

After the labour market experienced a strong bounce back from the pandemic, the unemployment rate has been on an upward trend since April as the Canadian economy shows clearer signs of weakness.

Real gross domestic product — which measures the size of the economy — has been struggling to consistently grow over the last year. The most recent GDP report showed the economy shrank 1.1 per cent on an annualized basis in the third quarter.

Canada’s unemployment rate is now hovering around pre-pandemic levels but is expected to continue rising as higher borrowing rates weigh on businesses.

The weaker job market also means more workers are finding themselves unemployed due to layoffs. Friday’s report says unemployed people last month were more likely to have been laid off compared with a year ago.

Despite those trends, however, average hourly wages continued to grow quickly — rising 4.8 per cent from a year ago — as workers seek compensation for the recent runup in inflation.

The Bank of Canada is set to announce its next interest rate decision on Wednesday, as forecasters widely believe the central bank is done raising rates.

Its key interest rate currently sits at five per cent, the highest it’s been since 2001.

— With additional reporting from OBJ staff

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