Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba jobless rate dips to 5%

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THE Manitoba economy has regained most of the 11,100 jobs it lost in April, after adding 3,000 new positions in May and another 7,300 in June, new Statistics Canada data show.

The agency's June labour force report shows Manitoba gained 4,800 new full-time and 2,500 new part-time jobs during the month. That was after adding 5,200 full-time positions in May and shedding 2,200 part-time ones, for a net gain of 3,000.

The gains of the last two months have largely offset the 7,400 full-time and 3,700 part-time positions that were lost in April.

They also dropped the provincial unemployment rate back down to five per cent, which is where it was before April's heavy losses drove it up to 5.8 per cent.

The rebound left Manitoba tied with Alberta for the second-lowest jobless rate in the country after Saskatchewan's 3.7 per cent.

Nationally, job creation in Canada returned to earth last month as employers pulled back following an apparent hiring binge in May that proved too good to be sustained.

Economists had expected payback from May's purported growth of 95,000 jobs, and they got it with Friday morning's flat reading -- actually a statistically meaningless loss of 400 jobs in June.

More meaningful was the decline of 32,400 jobs among full-time workers, offset by similar-sized gains in part-time jobs.

That left the national unemployment rate at 7.1 per cent, where it was in May and at the start of the year.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said the June report should be a reminder to markets and analysts to look through the volatile monthly data for a true picture of labour conditions and give greater credence to the three-month and six-month rolling averages.

During the first half of 2013, the Canadian economy created an average of about 14,000 jobs a month, about half the pace of growth seen in the second half of 2012.

"As a stand-alone report, June looks pretty sickly but given the massive, near-record job gain in May it's actually mildly encouraging that strength was maintained," Porter said.

"I do think the bigger picture is that job growth did slow in the first half of the year and that gives a more accurate picture of what happened in the Canadian job market, not these wild (swings)," he said.

"And the unemployment rate is 7.1 and it was 7.2 per cent a year ago, and that tells us there's been precious little improvement, but there is a little improvement."

Markets reacted swiftly to the data, however, dropping the loonie half a cent to 94.55 US both on the soft Canadian data and an above consensus 195,000 jobs gain south of the border.

-- staff/ The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 B7

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