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December 04, 2021

What to make of Canada's falling unemployment?

As you might’ve read, Canada’s job market received an applaudable “Atta boy” earlier today.

With the creation of 79,000 jobs last month, the nation’s unemployment rate was able to ease slightly, down now to 8.5 per cent as of November’s numbers.

But, encouraging figures aside, what does all that really mean for sustainable growth?

Well – for starters – it is modest progress. The lion’s share of those 79,000 jobs were found in the service sector (up 73,000 positions), but even that increase could only bring Canada’s unemployment rate down 0.1 per cent (from 8.6 per cent in October.)

Yet let’s give credit where credit is due: economists only figured 15,000 jobs would be added during the month, so November’s boom has – at least in the short-term – largely exceeded employment forecasts.

Past that, though? That’s maybe a different story.

Chief economists painted a picture of “Let’s not start designing that vacation home just yet” to the Financial Post this morning, reacting to the Statistics Canada report with perhaps deserved trepidation.

Derek Holt and Karen Cordes of Scotia Capital offer the most sobering take on the job numbers, pointing out that – despite the creation of nearly 80,000 gigs – overall hours worked actually declined by 0.3 per cent last month. (“More bodies are being hired, but at reduced aggregate hours worked,” they noted.)

Moreover, in the Post’s economist round-up, phrases like “don’t trust this,” “weak productivity,” “unsustainable,” and “no indication of a sustained labour-market recovery” are all too present.

The lesson, apparently: we’re not out of this yet.

According to CIBC World Markets’ chief economist Avery Shenfeld, each percentage point shaved off the national figure is great, but there’s still a “long road to the 6.5 per cent rate that might be considered to be full employment.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...