Last Friday, Statistics Canada released their latest Labour Force Information update. The headline results appear quite rosy.
Nationally, 63000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to a 33 year low of 5.8%. One highlighted detail is that most of the employment gains were in the health care and social assistance fields – taxpayer funded jobs. In addition manufacturing jobs are in decline probably caused somewhat by the strong Canadian dollar which impacts the export sector.
Provincially, New Brunswick had an increase in approximately 700 jobs with an increase of 1600 full time and a decrease of 800 part time jobs; encouraging numbers. Although the population being reported jumped by 500 people, the workforce declined by 2100 workers which is troubling to see. Perhaps this is an indication of the aging demographics of the province or even more troubling is a continued leaking of workers to the western provinces. The increase in jobs combined with the decrease in workers dropped the unemployment rate from 8.2% to 7.6% which is quite a respectable number for a province that had grown accustomed to double digit unemployment.
If we examine the number for the regions within New Brunswick we see a continued decline in population and employment for the northern regions of Edmunston-Woodstock and Campbellton-Miramichi while the southern regions and the major cities appear to be growing in terms of population and employment. This trend does not appear to be reversing in the near future as almost all of the major development projects over the next few years are in the southern half of the province. One of the few economic good stories in Northern NB has been the reopening of the Caribou mine by Blue Note Mining. Hopefully other positive developments will occur in the near future.
The Fredericton region had a bit of a tough month with the three month average showing a loss of 1000 jobs from last month. This pushes the unemployment rate for the region from 6.9% up to the provincial average of 7.3% (again three month average). There have been a few recent large events such as the closure of Connect North America which had a loss of 250 jobs and the shutdown of the M.L. Wilkens mill carried a loss of 70 jobs. Hopefully we will see these numbers turn around for November.