Canadian Unemployment Rates in March

Apr 04, 2014

Canada’s national unemployment rate was 6.9% in March.

Here’s what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):

  • Newfoundland 11.6 (11.8)
  • Prince Edward Island 11.8 (11.5)
  • Nova Scotia 9.3 (8.9)
  • New Brunswick 9.7 (9.8)
  • Quebec 7.6 (7.8)
  • Ontario 7.3 (7.5)
  • Manitoba 5.7 (5.3)
  • Saskatchewan 4.5 (3.9)
  • Alberta 4.9 (4.3)
  • British Columbia 5.8 (6.4)
  • Calgary 5.0 (4.7)
  • Edmonton 4.8 (5.1)
  • Vancouver 5.9 (6.2)

Canada’s economy showed signs of thawing out from a long, bitter winter last month, churning out an unexpectedly high 42,900 net new jobs that helped shave the unemployment rate to 6.9% — matching a post-recession low.

At 6.9%, the Canadian jobless rate matches the lowest point it’s been since the 2008-09 recession. The employment increase did not budge the participation rate from 66.2%, however, as more Canadians began looking for work in March.

The other surprise in the Statistics Canada report was that the vast majority of the new jobs last month — 32,500 — went to young Canadians, the 15-24 age group that has mostly been left behind during the recovery.

British Columbia’s unemployment rate fell in March as the province added 18,000 more jobs, the largest employment growth since the autumn of 2012. The gains were split between full-time and part-time jobs and pushed B.C.’s unemployment rate down by 0.6 percentage points to 5.8%, making it the fourth lowest in the country.

Employment in Alberta fell slightly in March compared with February as their unemployment rates moved upward. The increasing unemployment rate between February and March wasn’t necessary because of less jobs, as there were only 900 jobs lost in the province. It has more to do with an increasing labour force size (up 13,500) that did not necessarily find work (total unemployed people up 14,500). Alberta has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country behind Saskatchewan (4.5%).

Alberta’s employment decreased by 900 between February and March, remaining near record levels. On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 86,600 or 4.0% in March, the largest provincial percent increase by a wide margin (next closest is New Brunswick at a 1.6% annual increase). Over the same period, Canada’s employment increased by 190,000 or 1.1%. Alberta accounted for 46% of Canada’s employment gain between March 2013 and March 2014.