NATIONALLY, there were fewer jobs in January, according to a Statistics Canada report released Friday morning, but Manitoba kept charging ahead with 1,600 new jobs in January after a solid increase of 5,100 jobs in December.
That drove Manitoba's unemployment rate down to 5.0 per cent in January, tying the province's September rate, even though there was a slight increase in the labour force here as opposed to a 58,000 decline across the country in people looking for work.
"We're doing well, there's no question about that," said Peter Bjornson, Manitoba's Minister of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade.
Bjornson credits the province's diversified economy for its ability to weather recent economic storms, as well as his government's long-term commitment to training.
"That's always been a big priority for this government," he said. "We have invested significantly in bricks and mortar for training, as well as purchasing more apprenticeship spaces from the colleges and putting a lot of emphasis on labour-market development."
According to Statistics Canada, Manitoba had 640,000 people working in January, 13,800 more than a year earlier. Although the province lost 700 full-time jobs last month, the federal agency reports there were 1,400 fewer unemployed.
The biggest gains in employment in January came in the hospitality sector and in the information and creative industries.
Russ Smith, the manager of the Winnipeg office of Randstad Technologies, the largest information technology staffing company in the country, said there is a significant demand for workers in the Winnipeg area.
"Demand in the technology sector doubled since last year, and it doubled last year from the year before," he said. "There is a huge shortage of technical positions."
He said his firm is noticing an uptick in recent weeks of local companies making permanent full-time hiring decisions they weren't making in the last six months.
Unemployment by province
Canada's national unemployment rate was 7.0 per cent in January. Here's what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):
-- Newfoundland 11.5 (11.6)
-- Prince Edward Island 11.8 (11.0)
-- Nova Scotia 9.7 (9.3)
-- New Brunswick 11.3 (10.8)
-- Quebec 7.1 (7.3)
-- Ontario 7.7 (7.9)
-- Manitoba 5.0 (5.2)
-- Saskatchewan 4.0 (4.6)
-- Alberta 4.5 (4.5)
-- British Columbia 6.3 (6.4)
-- The Canadian Press