Labour market kept roaring to end off the year with 104,000 jobs added in December

This marks the third decline in the unemployment rate in four months

By Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa

The Canadian economy added 104,000 jobs in December as the unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.0 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

This marks the third decline in the unemployment rate in four months, edging it closer to the record-low of 4.9 per cent reached in June and July.

“You always have to be a little bit careful about reading too much into any single Canadian employment report,” said Douglas Porter, BMO’s chief economist. 

“But this is the second time in three months that the economy has cranked out 100,000 new jobs, which is a big number historically.”

In its latest labour force survey, the federal agency said the rise in employment was driven by an increase in full-time work.

The number of employees in the private sector also increased last month, with job gains made across industries.

Meanwhile, employment in the public sector held steady.

Wages continued to grow at a year-over-year pace above 5.0 per cent for the seventh consecutive month, with wages up 5.1 per cent.

However, wage growth still lags the country’s inflation rate, which was 6.8 per cent in November.

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 rose in December, fully recouping job losses experienced between July and September.

The jobs report also noted that the employment rate among women between the ages of 25 and 54 reached a record-high last month.

The Bank of Canada has previously flagged the country’s tight labour market as a contributor to high inflation.

The central bank has raised interest rates aggressively in hopes of bringing down the pace of price growth and cooling the economy..

While economists expect unemployment to rise in response to higher borrowing costs, the labour market has remained resilient over recent months.

The Bank of Canada signalled last month a willingness to press pause on its aggressive rate hike cycle, depending on how the economy evolves. 

Though BMO still expects there to be another rate hike at the end of the month, Porter said the latest jobs report doesn’t close the debate. 

“But I would say at the very least, this strengthens the case for at least one more rate hike in January.”

Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2023.