The number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer was little changed in March, down by 9,900, following an increase of 37,900 (+0.2 per cent) in February. Meanwhile, job vacancies edged down by 17,300 (-2.1 per cent) in March, according to data released Thursday by Statistics Canada.
The federal agency said payroll employment in the goods-producing sector declined (-17,200; -0.6 per cent) in March. Construction (-12,800; -1.1 per cent) recorded the largest decline, followed by manufacturing (-4,500; -0.3 per cent).
“Payroll employment in the services-producing sector was little changed in March (-3,000). Increases were observed in three sectors, led by health care and social assistance (+6,300; +0.3 per cent) and professional, scientific and technical services (+3,600; +0.3 per cent). These gains were dampened by declines across five of the 15 services-producing sectors.” said StatsCan.
“The largest declines in the services-producing sector in March were observed in accommodation and food services (-5,000; -0.4 per cent), information and cultural industries (-4,200; -1.1 per cent) and administrative and support, waste management and remediation services (-3,600; -0.4 per cent). There was little change in the remaining seven sectors.”
On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings were up 1.4 per cent in March, following an increase of 1.9 per cent in February. Average weekly earnings increased notably over the first quarter of 2022 and reached a peak of $1,168 in March 2022. This resulted in a base-year effect that dampened the year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings in March 2023, said Statistics Canada, adding that average weekly hours stood at 33.1 hours in March, unchanged from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, growth in employment (+3.3 per cent) outpaced growth in total hours worked (+1.8 per cent), resulting in a 1.2 per cent decline in average weekly hours worked.
Andrew Grantham, an economist with CIBC Economics, said the employment data from Canadian businesses suggests that the labour market may be cooling a little quicker than the more timely Labour Force Survey (LFS) has suggested.
“Employment fell by 10K in March, which contrasted to an increase seen in the LFS. However, it it’s fairly common for the payrolls and labour force surveys to show divergent trends on a month-to-month basis. Potentially more important news from today’s release was a continued easing in job vacancies, which fell by 17K to their lowest level since August 2021. The job vacancy rate of 4.5 per cent was down from 4.7 per cent in the prior month and the lowest since June 2021. The current vacancy rate sits roughly half way between the peaks seen last year (5.7 per cent), and pre-pandemic norms just above three per cent. Our preferred measure of wages (the fixed weight index in today’s release) pointed to a deceleration in wage growth to 3.0 per cent y/y from 4.1 per cent in the prior month, although that could accelerate again in the months ahead as some weak monthly increases drop out of the calculation. Overall, today’s data suggests that the Canadian labour market is softening, even if that isn’t showing up in a rise in the unemployment rate quite yet,” he said.
(Mario Toneguzzi is Managing Editor of Canada’s Podcast. He has more than 40 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald, covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He works as well as a freelance writer for several national publications and as a consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list)
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