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Canada got a bunch of new jobs last month - they're just not the kind the economy needs

November job gains

The Canadian economy created a whole load of jobs in November – 10,700 to be specific – resulting in our unemployment rate dipping slightly to 6.8 percent. That’s most definitely not a bad thing, except for the fact that most of these jobs fell in the part-time category. While 19.400 part-time jobs were added to the economy last month, 8,700 full-time jobs were lost. This is in fact the second month in a row where job gains were driven by part-time work, a problematic trend for a country two years into an oil slump.

“The November employment figures were the definition of a mixed-bag”, said TD economist Brian DePratto in a research note. “Job gains were again due to part-time employment, and rather than the result of more people working, the decline in the unemployment rate was largely related to less people looking for work.”

According to Statistics Canada’s monthly labour report released Friday morning, the Canadian economy has added 213,000 part-time jobs over the past year, but eliminated 30,500 full-time gigs.  

Oil-dependent Alberta has continued to struggle on the job front, losing a precious 13,600 full-time jobs primarily in the oil sector. The jobless rate in Alberta has now jumped to 9 percent – the highest it’s been since 1994. Ontario, on the other hand seemed to be the driver of employment last month, adding 18,900 positions to its workforce.

But the most riveting story, according to BMO economist Robert Kavcic, is Quebec. The province created 8,500 jobs last month and the jobless rate plunged to to 6.2 percent – a record low going back over 40 years of data. “Where are these jobs, you ask? Both the public and private sectors; full-time and part-time; and in goods and service industries,” said Kavcic in a research note. “Quebec is within a hair of the strongest job growth in Canada.”

It’s interesting to note what sectors these job losses and gains are coming from because they give us a sense of what’s working or not working in our economy. The services sector gained 31,200 new jobs, mostly concentrated in finance, insurance and real estate. We lost a whopping 20,600 positions in our goods-producing sector – with construction and manufacturing seeing the biggest declines. In short, gains for white collar workers, losses for blue collar workers – a pattern that continues to prevail across the Western hemisphere.

“The trend that has emerged in the latter half of 2016 has not been an encouraging one,” says DePratto.

“Full-time employment is now at its lowest level since 2011, and wage growth has softened markedly. In many ways, the labour market appears to be evolving in line with an overall economy that continues to struggle to find traction.” 

Vanmala is VICE Canada’s Money & Economics Editor. Follow her on Twitter

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