Canada added 55,000 jobs in December before Omicron took hold

Most of the gains were in Ontario and Saskatchewan

A glowing jobs report for the month of December, in which the Canadian economy added 55,000 jobs, happened before the weight of the Omicron variant took hold across the country.

It was the lowest unemployment rate since February 2020 before the pandemic, when it was 5.7 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported on Friday that Saskatchewan and Ontario made up almost all the gains, while the job market remained flat in most of the other provinces and territories.

The job increase was twice as much as what economists had predicted. However, Omicron threatens to derail the success, as the numbers were collected prior to the more contagious variant’s rapid spread across Canada and a return to restrictions in some provinces. This includes a ban on indoor dining at bars and restaurants and the closure of gyms and movie theatres in Ontario.

In Barrie, the unemployment rate actually saw a slight increase in December to 5.4 per cent, according to Mayor Jeff Lehman. He noted it is still well below the national and provincial levels.

“I think by the end of the month we might have been seeing the first of the Omicron impacts,” the mayor said in an email to Barrie 360. “The labour force dropped by 3,000 people, which is unusual.”

In Ontario, the jobless rate in December was 6.0 per cent compared to 6.4 in November.