Jobless rate falls, diverges from U.S. path

Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:23am EDT
 
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The unemployment rate in Canada fell to the lowest level since January 2009 in May as the number of jobs increased by 22,300, an island of healthy data in a sea of recent figures showing tepid North American economic growth.

Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the jobless rate dropped from 7.6 percent in April to 7.4 percent in May, a number last seen when Canada was falling into recession at the start of 2009.

By contrast, the U.S. rate rose to 9.1 percent in May from 9.0 percent in April. That's half a point more than the highest jobless rate registered in Canada during the economic slump: 8.6 percent in August 2009.

"The jobs numbers were reasonably comforting news amidst other data that showed the second quarter is going to be a disappointment," said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets.

"The only fly in the ointment was that the job gains were associated with self-employment, which can sometimes involve a smaller output gain associated with them."

The number of self-employed rose by 29,500.

Full-time employment grew by 32,900. Private-sector employees rose by 37,100 and public-sector jobs fell by 44,300.

Statscan also reported that labor productivity rose by 0.4 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter, less than half what analysts had expected. Canadian labor costs per unit of production, when calculated in U.S. dollars to show competitive pressures, rose 3.3 percent while U.S. unit labor costs only went up 0.4 percent.   Continued...

 
<p>The Bay Street sign is pictured in the heart of the financial district as people walk by in Toronto, May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>