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Canada’s Financial Sector 50,000 Jobs Slimmer Since January 2011

Despite some positive signs in the latest overall Canadian jobs report, the nation’s labor market has been stalled for the past several months, with the financial services sector losing 50,000 jobs during the past 12 months ending in January.

Employment in finance, insurance, leasing and real estate fell for the fifth consecutive month in January 2012, down 23,000. This left employment in the industry 50,000 (-4.6 percent) below its level of January 2011, according to a report from Statistics Canada, the nation’s central supplier of jobs data.

Compared with 12 months earlier, overall employment rose by 129,000 (+0.7 percent) jobs, with most of the growth occurring in the first six months. “Both full-time and part-time employment were essentially unchanged in January,” says the Statistics Canada commentary.

Employment increased in educational services, information, culture and recreation, and personal and household services. There were declines, meanwhile, in professional, scientific and technical services as well as in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing.

Employment increased by 19,000 in January among women aged 55 and over, growing 3.5 percent (+49,000) compared with 12 months earlier. This was in part a result of the aging population, according to the agency report. However, men aged 55 and over saw little employment change in January. “Their 12-month employment growth rate of 3.1 percent (+52,000) was entirely the result of the aging population,” said Statistics Canada.

One columnist observed that “buried in the numbers is the fact that the private and public sector added 39,000 jobs while self-employment fell by 37,000. That’s a good sign,” writes the Globe and Mail’s Michael Brand. Chief economist Avery Shenfeld of CIBC World Markets echoed that statement. “One silver lining is that private and public hiring were both up at a healthy pace, with the weakness coming from self-employment (after a prior month gain). The overall trend is one in which unemployment is edging up, reinforcing the very dovish Bank of Canada stance already assumed by markets.”

Alberta Shows Highest Growth

In Quebec, employment was down 1.1 percent (by 45,000) between January of 2011 and January of this year as a result of losses in the final quarter of 2011, says the latest report. Alberta posted the highest growth rate (+3.9 percent or +80,000) compared with 12 months earlier. Alberta’s unemployment rate, at 4.9 percent, remained the lowest among all provinces. In Ontario, employment in the province increased 0.7 percent (+44,000) in the 12 months ending in January 2012, with all the growth occurring in the first half of the period.

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