Canadian economy adds 55,900 net jobs in February

Employers in Ottawa-Gatineau added 7,300 jobs to their payrolls in February, pushing the region's unemployment rate down one percentage point to 5.1 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday. Rounding things out was a 15.1k net increase in self-employment.

The breakdown in the numbers was also positive, with 67,400 new full-time jobs offsetting a loss of 11,600 part-time positions.

On the other end of the spectrum, the number of jobs in accommodations and food services shrunk by 14,000.

Canada's employment gains were even stronger than those south of the border.

The goods-producing sectors added 9,500 new positions following job gains in natural resources, agriculture and manufacturing.

This is the best month for jobs since 2012, and this strong February comes after an even stronger January.

The unemployment rate held firm last month at 5.8 per cent as more people hunted for work, the agency said in its latest labour force survey. The private sector led the way, adding 31.8k net positions, while the public sector added 8.8k.

In addition, the Ontario Government said in a release that Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie has the largest employment growth year-over-year across the province at seven per cent growth. The recent strength of labor market gains sent the trend rate to 48.3k per month, the strongest it has been since 2002.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth in February for permanent employees was 2.3 per cent, up from January's reading of 1.8 per cent.

The Bank of Canada keeps close watch of several wage indicators ahead of policy decisions on its key interest rate. Ontario was the sole province with a notable employment gain.

"We're going to continue to do stuff like this to generate more employment, to continue to invest in infrastructure generally and continue to fight to get the pipeline to tidewater in order to build that level of investor confidence that will move us forward".

That's a small increase in the jobless rate from the month before, when it was 8.3 per cent, but down from February a year ago, when it was 8.9 per cent.

  • Eleanor Harrison