OTTAWA — Canada’s labour market gained 419,000 jobs last month as more parts of the economy were allowed to reopen, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The national unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June.
The figures were slightly better than expected, with the average economist estimate for a gain of 400,000 jobs in July and an unemployment rate of 11 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Combined with the 953,000 jobs gained in June and the 290,000 in May, the country was within 1.3 million jobs of the pre-pandemic level.
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“The pace of increase in employment slowed in July relative to the prior month, and that’s likely to become a trend as the pace of easing in restrictions also slows down and the number of Canadians on temporary layoff falls,” CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes wrote in a note.
“The good news is that with virus cases low in Canada at moment, the country isn’t facing an immediate risk of having to tamp down activity again.”
Most employment gains in July were in part-time work, which increased to the tune of 345,000 positions, while full-time positions increased by 73,000.
Part-time gains have outpaced full-time work in each of the past three months, Statistics Canada noted, with part-time work within five per cent of its pre-COVID-19 levels compared with full-time work, which is still down 7.5 per cent from February before the pandemic struck.
The agency says nearly 30 per cent of people working less than 30 hours a week in July would have preferred full-time work, an increase from the 22.2 per cent recorded one year earlier.
Statistics Canada says the finding suggests that employers, at least for now, may be limiting the number of hours being offered even as restrictions ease.
About 266,0000 more people were looking for work in July, the third consecutive month of gains, but that’s still down almost 300,000 from where it was in February.
The agency says the unemployment rate would have been 13.8 per cent in July if it had included in calculations those who wanted to work but didn’t look for a job.