Canada's monthly job growth exceeds USA, stifles rate cut calls

A steel worker builds a structure in Ottawa

At 4:04 p.m. (2104 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.4 percent higher at 1.3405 to the greenback, or 74.60 USA cents.

Employment in Canada rose by approximately 55,900 in February from January as an increase in full-time employment offset a decrease in part-time jobs, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by Statistics Canada.

More people were also employed in public administration; natural resources; and agriculture in February. Canada even beat the disappointing U.S. February tally of 20,000 - for the first month in more than 8 years. The jobless rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent as more people joined the labor market. The two-month gain is the best start to a year since 1981. "Our investments in infrastructure and services will generate tens of thousands of good jobs". Annual average hourly gains accelerated to 2.3 percent in February from 2 percent a month earlier, with pay for permanent employees up 2.2 percent, from 1.8 percent previously.

The Bank of Canada keeps close watch of several wage indicators ahead of policy decisions on its key interest rate.

On Thursday, Bank of Canada deputy governor Lynn Patterson said she expects economic growth - which has seen an abrupt deceleration in recent months - to build fresh momentum in the second half of the year, thanks in large part to the still-strong employment conditions and improving wages. In particular, the central bank focuses on a reading called "wage common", which incorporates payroll data from several sources, not just from the labour force survey.

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Over the 12-month stretch leading up to February, total employment rose by 369,100 jobs or two per cent.

For the third month in a row it was Ontario (+36.9k) and Quebec (+14.9k) that drove the overall gains, with little notable movement in the other provinces.

"The ongoing gains in employment suggest that the current soft patch in broader activity is not morphing into something more ominous", BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote to investors.

Younger Canadians again enjoyed the bulk of the gains, as 15-25 year olds saw a 28.6k net increase, which helped bring their unemployment down 0.4p.p.to 10.8%.

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