Canada surprises with April jobs loss; trails U.S. employment pace

Fri May 9, 2014 11:08am EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's economy lost 28,900 jobs in April, Statistics Canada said on Friday in a report that revealed across-the-board weakness in a labor market that is stalled and has been adding jobs at a more sluggish pace than in the United States.

The report suggests economic growth has not been gathering the speed that was expected in the second quarter and that business confidence is still shaky. That reinforces the view that the Bank of Canada is unlikely to raise its main interest rate until the second half of 2015.

"It suggests that maybe we're starting the second quarter on a softer footing than initially believed. There's really no silver lining in this report," said Mazen Issa, senior strategist at TD Securities.

The biggest losses were in the accommodation and food services industries, followed by finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. All the job losses were in full-time positions and the majority were in the private sector.

Market players had forecast, on average, 12,000 net new jobs in April following a big gain of 42,900 in March.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 6.9 percent because fewer people participated in the labor force, Statscan said. The participation rate was 66.1 percent, compared with 66.2 percent in March.

Analysts warned against doomsday predictions based on one month's data, suggesting the delayed arrival of spring weather might have led some employers to postpone hiring plans. Also, the outsized loss of 32,000 jobs in the province of Quebec could be an anomaly that reverses itself in May, they argued.

Still, Statscan's numbers show an employment picture that has changed little since last August. The six-month moving average for employment growth stood at 2,300 in April, down from 9,700 in March. In the year to April, the number of people working rose by 0.8 percent, or 149,000.   Continued...

People work at a bridge under construction in Toronto February 20, 2014. Picture taken February 20. REUTERS/Aaron Harris