Canada created 154,000 jobs last month, pushing unemployment rate to pandemic low of 6%
The Canadian economy created 154,000 new jobs last month, exceeding past expectations and enough to bring the unemployment rate down to just 6%.
Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to six percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic. Before COVID-19, in February 2020, Canada had an unemployment rate of 5.7%. It peaked at 13.7% in May of the same year, before dropping steadily.
The data agency calculates that more than 19.3 million people in Canada were employed last month. This is 183,000 more than before the pandemic.
Wages are also increasing
There was also good news on the wages front, as the data agency calculates wages in November 2021 were 7.7% higher than they were in the same month two years ago, before the pandemic. That’s $ 2.18 more per hour, on average, since the same period two years ago.
Overall, workers move up the pay scale. The number of people earning less than $ 12 an hour has declined dramatically over the past two years, from more than a quarter of a million people previously to just 165,000 people today. There are also fewer people making between $ 12 and $ 20 an hour, as that number has dropped from 5.1 million workers to just 4.4 million now.
These salary brackets are going down because people move up the salary scale. Those making between $ 20 and $ 30 an hour have grown from 4.9 million previously to 5.2 million now, and the ranks of those in the highest bracket have risen to over 6.8 million of people. That’s over a million more than before.
While higher wages are good for workers, they come with a double-edged sword as the cost of living is also rising rapidly. These big paychecks are tempered by the fact that Statistics Canada data shows that prices have increased by 5.3%. 100 compared to what they were two years ago.
Tanya Gullison, chief revenue officer at human resources consultancy LHH, said people are returning to the workforce in droves because they need the money to pay the higher cost of everything.
“We are still seeing a major war for talent,” she said in an interview. “We’re finding that employers have to do some really unexpected things to attract and retain the talent they have.”
She said the companies that win this war are the ones that are able to attract the best workers by offering flexible work requirements, good benefits and other perks.
But cold and hard money also attracts people. Statistics Canada data indicates that average wage earnings are increasing at a faster rate for new hires than for existing workers.
“Over the next fiscal year, bonuses and other benefits are also expected to reverberate as a means of attracting new talent and retaining existing staff,” said Gullison.
Long-term unemployment on the decline
In the depths of the pandemic, policymakers warned of a growing cohort of “long-term unemployed,” which Statistics Canada defines as people who have lost their jobs and have not found a new one for at least 27 weeks, which is a little over six months.
There were about 185,000 Canadians in this category before the pandemic, about 15 percent of all unemployed.
That number soared to 510,000 people in April this year, nearly a third of those who were unemployed.
The figure has been dropping steadily since then, but has seen its biggest drop since the pandemic began in November, plunging from 62,000 to 305,000.
A new start for many
Erika Albert is one of the many Canadian women who managed to find a job last month after a long period of inactivity.
She lost her finance job in December 2020 and took an extended hiatus “to reassess what I wanted to do at this point in my career.”
After spending much of the year trying to find the perfect job, she says she finally found it this month, when she was hired as an office manager at an engineering firm in Montreal. Guelph, Ontario, specializing in renewable energy.
“I have learned so much in my career up to this point [and] I really enjoy doing something that includes a bit of everything I’ve learned, ”she said in an interview.
“I am well rested now and look forward to being part of the team and working to make the world a better place.”
Albert is not the only one to feel this optimism.
Economist Tu Nguyen from consulting firm RSM Canada said that despite the ongoing pandemic, there is a surge in demand for labor and a new feeling among workers that they may be a bit more demanding than they could have been otherwise.
“The rising tide of economic recovery is finally lifting everyone in all demographic groups, in all industries, in all business sizes and in all provinces,” she said in an interview. “It will be a few very competitive months to come.”