Canada’s job market gained 63,000 positions in September, edging the unemployment rate lower to 5.9%, and offsetting job losses in August, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
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.
Economists had estimated the country would add 25,000 jobs in September, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
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%, after two months of increases
On a year-over-year basis, Canada gained 222,000 jobs since September 2017.
South of the border, the unemployment rate in the United States dropped more than expected, to 3.7% in September from 3.9% the previous month, as 134,000 jobs were created, well below analyst predictions of a 185,000 jobs surge.
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% and exports declined 1.1%, producing a surplus of $526 million compared with July’s $189 million trade deficit.
Taken together, the jobs and trade reports paint a rosier economic picture than anticipated, increasing the likelihood that the Bank of Canada will increase its trend-setting interest rate later this month, said BMO Financial Group chief economist Doug Porter.
“The big picture is that the economy overall is looking a bit better than anticipated, with the bias now squarely to the upside on growth,” Porter headlined in a note to clients.
But the fact that the job gains were part-time, and the trade surplus was the result of declines in both imports and exports, takes some of the shine off the numbers, said Royce Mendes at CIBC Capital Markets.
Statistics Canada’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%, up by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.
Men in the core age bracket gained the most, with 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 twelve 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.
Statistics Canada also released third quarter employment numbers for the territories, reporting gains of 500 and 900 jobs in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories respectively while 400 job losses were recorded in Yukon. The numbers were compared with the second quarter and based on a three-month rolling average.