While the Canadian economy added 140,000 jobs in March and April, May saw much more modest growth. Roughly 7,700 new jobs were created last month, slightly more than the 5,000 that most economists had been predicting. These numbers leave the overall Canadian unemployment rate little changed at 7.3%.

Still, employment was up by 1.2% or over 200,000 largely full-time jobs over this time last year.

By industry:

Last month saw employment gains in manufacturing, educational services, retail and wholesale trade, as well as in agriculture. Construction, culture and recreation saw job losses in May.

The manufacturing sector added 36,000 new jobs in May, continuing an upward trend that began back in November of last year. Employment in educational services also increased, adding 26,000 new jobs. This brings the number of people employed in education up by 5.6% or 68,000 more positions over the past year.

Employment in the retail and wholesale trades was up as well, adding 24,000 jobs in May. This coincides with the numbers of job postings we’re seeing on Workopolis, where we’ve had substantial growth in jobs in retail/hospitality/food across the country. Which is good news as we head into the summer, as this sector is a large source of summer jobs for young workers who continue to be the hardest hit by unemployment.

May also saw solid gains in agriculture jobs with 11,000 more people working in that industry.

There were 27,000 fewer jobs in information, culture and recreation in 27,000 in May, bringing employment in this industry back down to where it was one year ago. The construction sector also took a hit last month, also losing 27,000 jobs.


Alberta continued to see the strongest job growth of any region of the country, adding 9,800 jobs in May. This brings that province’s unemployment rate down to 4.5% the lowest level since 2008.

Employment also rose in New Brunswick for the second month in a row. The addition of 5,300 new jobs lowers the provincial unemployment rate to 9.4%.

After two months of more substantial growth, employment in Quebec was up only slightly in May, bringing the unemployment rate to 7.8%. This is the same level of unemployment as this time last year.

Ontario saw some job losses, leaving the unemployment rate little changed at 7.8%. This is also roughly the same as it was a year ago.

While the number of jobs in British Columbia remained roughly the same last month, the unemployment rate edged up to 7.4% as the number people looking for work, particularly younger workers, increased.

Young workers:

Young people aged 15-24 continue to struggle on the job market as employment for this group declined slightly last month. Youth unemployment remains nearly double the national average at 14.3%. This is roughly the same level as it was in July 2009, when the labour market dropped at the start of the recession.


Peter Harris

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