Little change to employment levels in September

Year-over-year growth in average hourly wages surpasses 5 per cent for 4th consecutive month

Little change to employment levels in September

Employment was little changed in September, up by 21,000 jobs, according to Statistics Canada.

The number of unemployed Canadians fell 41,000 (3.7 per cent). After increasing 0.5 percentage points to 5.4 per cent in August, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 per cent.

“Today’s numbers reinforce that the expansion from the pandemic rebound is over. The question ahead is whether progress will reverse,” says Brendon Bernard, senior economist at Indeed.

Read more: Continuing declines with August job numbers

Increases for men and women

Employment among women aged 25 to 54 grew by 47,000 (0.8 per cent) in September, the first increase since May 2022, with all the gains being in full-time work.

Employment among core-aged men was unchanged for a fifth consecutive month, but up by 188,000 (2.9 per cent) on a year-over-year basis, says Ottawa.

After remaining virtually unchanged since February 2022, employment rose by 14,000 (1.1 per cent) for young men in September, driven primarily by those aged 20 to 24.

Young women saw employment declines (down 40,000 or 3.1 per cent) for a second consecutive month.

Sectoral, regional differences

After declining for two consecutive months, the number of employees in the public sector increased by 35,000 (0.8 per cent) in September. The number of private sector employees was little changed.

Year-over-year employment increases were spread across several industries, including manufacturing (32,000); professional, scientific and technical services (25,000); and transportation and warehousing (24,000), says Statistics Canada.

Read more: How are employers preparing for the recession?

Employment increased in British Columbia (33,000), Manitoba (6,900), Nova Scotia (4,300) and New Brunswick (2,900) in September. But fewer people worked in Ontario (down 32,000) and Prince Edward Island (down 3,800).

Wage considerations

Year-over-year growth in the average hourly wages of employees surpassed five per cent for a fourth consecutive month in September (5.2 per cent or $1.57 to $31.67) (not seasonally adjusted). In comparison, year-over-year growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was at, or above, seven per cent from May to August.

“With overall employment in stall-speed, the action now lies in paychecks,” says Bernard.

“Job growth might have cooled, but the labour market remains tight, which continues to show up in solid wage growth.”

Average hourly wages were up in nearly all industries on a year-over-year basis, including accommodation and food services (8.7 per cent or $1.51 to $18.89).

Read more: Boosting pay, benefits not enough to combat turnover

“Gains in average hourly wages are the result of multiple factors, including wage growth and changes in the composition of employment by industry and occupation,” says Statistics Canada.

In September, wage gains were boosted by year-over year growth in the number of employees in relatively high-paying industries, including construction (109,000 or 10 per cent) and professional, scientific and technical services (56,000 or 4.4 per cent). Average wages were up 7.5 per cent ($2.36 to $33.79) in construction and 9.1 per cent in professional, scientific and technical services ($3.42 to $40.98) in September.

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