Northeast BC unemployment rate below four per cent in January 2018


Even so, the economy still saw employment growth of 1.6 per cent over the year with 289,000 more jobs created.

Victoria saw an unemployment increase for the second consecutive month at 3.9 per cent from 3.5.

Overall, 88,000 jobs were lost in January - the steepest one-month decline in the Canadian labour market in nine years.

It wasn't just Ontario that saw wage growth of more than 3 per cent. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia recorded increases over that level, with the westernmost province's wages rising almost 4 per cent.

That trend was reflected nationally, with Canada adding 49,000 full-time jobs compared with the 137,000 part-time jobs that were lost that month.

"The Canadian economy experienced a very large setback in January, but it also needs to be kept in perspective - we had outstandingly strong job growth over the course of previous year", Craig Alexander, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada, said in an interview.

Del Duca, who took over the portfolio in a recent cabinet shuffle as Premier Kathleen Wynne positioned her government for the June 7 election, said the fact that Ontario's unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent is a sign economic growth is "strong and sustained".

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Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers "reflect the concerns we have heard from businesses for months".

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the December result was stronger than expected. He said the losses reported Friday brought the monthly jobs average more in line with the other economic numbers.

When it comes to the Bank of Canada's possible reaction to the January report, Alexander noted the "bad number" could delay the timing of governor Stephen Poloz's next rate hike. Poloz has repeatedly said future rate decisions will be highly data dependent.

The largest employment declines came in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

A closer look at the January data showed the number of paid employee positions also experienced a significant loss last month by shedding 112,000 positions.

Overall, economists are divided on how minimum wage increases play out. He said it reinforces the view that the Bank of Canada will proceed "ultra-cautiously" through the rest of 2018.

"Now part of that might be reflecting the increase in minimum wages in Ontario because that increase in minimum wage is impacting more than 20 per cent of all the workers in Ontario".

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