Statistics Canada released the latest employment figures for the month of September 2007 last Friday.
As I suggested last month, this month’s report would include numbers from a few large layoffs such as the UPM mill in Miramichi. Despite this, the provincial economy only lost 100 jobs in the month. This number does mask the fact that 600 full time jobs were lost while 500 part-time jobs were created. Unfortunately part-time jobs are typically lower paying jobs and they are certainly lower paying than unionized paper mill jobs.
There is some good news in that the reported New Brunswick population has increased by 500 (rounded, of course) in the last month and the labour force increased by 2200 as well. One question that comes up is the reason for this large labour force increase relative to the population growth. Is it as some suggest that the job market is rosy so that people who had given up and stopped actively looking for work, and hence left the labour force are coming back to the job market? The increase in labour force might also come out of necessity as a single earners lose their high wage job and now dual incomes are needed in order to maintain the lifestyle and provide the necessities. Hopefully it is more of the former.
With the increase in the labour force and the decrease in jobs, the unemployment rate increased from 7.7% to 8.2%. The local number in the Fredericton-Oromocto region don’t look as rosy either. The sample sizes are small and hence the need for three month moving averages as opposed to the monthly provincial number. The three month moving average for employment dropped 70.9 to 69 thousand. Ouch. The year over year numbers still look very good but September’s numbers are worrisome.
Statistics Canada focused on New Brunswick’s year to date numbers – “New Brunswick had the second-strongest employment growth (+2.5%) in the country so far this year. However, the unemployment rate rose by percentage points to 8.2% in September, the result of more people looking for work. Unfortunately this statement is what was picked up by the media and thus spinned the job numbers as a positive. The truth is a little dimmer….