February 3, 2017 / 6:14 PM / 10 months ago

Canadian job growth revised up, part-time growth persists

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian economy created slightly more jobs than previously thought in 2016, with much of the growth coming from part-time employment, though economists expect some of that deterioration in the quality of jobs to dissipate this year.

A man looks at a job board posted at a job fair in Toronto, April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA BUSINESS) - RTXDID0

Canada added 229,000 jobs as of the end of 2016 compared with December the year before, according to revised data from Statistics Canada.

That was up from the previously reported annual gain of 214,100. The agency revises its data annually to incorporate new seasonal patterns.

Part-time work accounted for much of the change, jumping by 155,600 positions, compared with a gain of just 73,500 full-time jobs.

“It definitely softens the picture of labor market strength,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

However, the national picture should look better through 2017 as the commodity provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan stabilize from the hit from lower oil prices, adding to already strong growth elsewhere in the country, said Kavcic.

On the whole, the revised numbers reinforced that Canada had strong job growth in the second half of last year, offsetting weakness at the beginning of 2016 as the economy grappled with the fallout of the oil price crash.

While last year’s skew toward part-time jobs could weigh on income growth and consumer spending, the fiscal stimulus from the Canadian government and a looked-for pickup in U.S. growth should offset that, said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

Stronger Canadian growth should also create more full-time jobs, Ferley said.

“We’ve had some strength in growth, so with that I think you would probably see some rebound in terms of full-time employment and some slowing in part-time,” he said.

December’s unemployment rate was unrevised at 6.9 percent. The Bank of Canada has pointed to material slack in the labor market underlying the official unemployment rate as a reason for the central bank to keep interest rates low.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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