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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian economy probably recouped some jobs in February that it lost earlier this year, but tepid growth most likely limited hiring to 8,000 net new positions, a Reuters survey of economists showed on Friday.
Most economists expect some bounce back from January's loss of 21,900 jobs. But many believe the job growth in the last months of 2012 was more than merited by an economy which in the second half showed the weakest two quarters since the 2008-09 recession.
Toronto Dominion Bank is predicting no new jobs at all in February but said that if that were so, the six-month average increase in employment would still be 20,000, a little stronger than what the wider economy would imply.
"This suggests that there is still more weakness to come for Canada's labor market in 2013," it said in a research note, adding however that the Conference Board of Canada reported a significant jump in its help-wanted index in January, the largest gain since March 2011. (For details, see: here)
Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic is calling for 9,000 new jobs, with construction being one area of weakness given a cooling in housing starts in the fourth quarter.
"A sub-10,000 number is still sending the message that the economy is pretty soft," he said.
CIBC World Markets' Emanuella Enenajor said the expected slower pace of hiring would be more in line with the apparent economic slowdown.
"Hiring should track a slow pace of roughly 5K to 10K in the next few months, seeing the jobless rate edge higher," she said.
The expectation is that the unemployment rate would increase to 7.1 percent from 7.0 percent as more people join the work force.
Reporting by Randall Palmer, editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Kenneth Barry