Job explosion: Best year since 1987

Canadian economy created 560,000 new jobs in 2002, according to Statistics Canada

The Canadian economy roared ahead in 2002 with nearly 560,000 new jobs being created. That translates into an increase of 3.7 per cent and the strongest annual growth rate since 1987, according to Statistics Canada.

Consumer and government spending, a rise in exports and a booming housing market fuelled the growth and the employment rate, the proportion of the population employed, was higher than the U.S. rate for the first time since 1998 in November. In December the rate hit a record high of 62.4 per cent.

Exceeded expectations

The labour market performance in 2002 exceeded the expectations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which had forecast employment growth in Canada at 1.3 per cent, later revised to 1.6 per cent.

On an annual average basis, employment actually increased 2.2 per cent in 2002. Canada’s gross domestic product increased 4.0 per cent from the third quarter of 2001, when the economy was at its low point for that year, to the third quarter of 2002.

Manufacturing rebounds

In 2001 the manufacturing sector was the main source of weakness in the economy. Last year it was a totally different picture as manufacturing rebounded, creating 125,000 jobs in the process.

That’s a gain of 5.6 per cent and is in sharp contrast to the decline of 112,000, or 4.8 per cent, in 2001.

The largest gains were in food processing and machinery production. Employment in food processing was up 23,000, or 9.8 per cent, and machinery manufacturing gained 19,000, or 16.6 per cent.

The automotive sector ended the year on a negative note, but helped drive the trend upward for most of 2002, according to Statistics Canada. As a result of strong sales from January to October, Canadian parts plants expanded output to meet increased demand from assembly plants across North America.

By August, automotive and parts employment was 15 per cent higher than it had been in August 2001. But soft sales in the U.S. in the fourth quarter led to plant shutdowns as inventories increased. Employment in motor vehicles and parts fell 21,000 in December, eliminating all the gains in the industry in 2002.

Good year for women

Employment for adult women jumped 244,000, or 4.2 per cent, in 2002. About one-fifth of the increase came from manufacturing, but women posted strong gains health care, social assistance, education and the federal public service.

By the end of the year, the unemployment rate for adult women had declined from 6.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information had forecast health care spending to rise 6.3 per cent to $112.2 billion in 2002. This helped fuel employment in health care and social assistance by 90,000 jobs, or 5.7 per cent, the largest increase since 1989.

Job growth by province

Employment increased in every province with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2002, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for almost two-thirds of the total increase.

Ontario created 196,000 jobs (up 3.3 per cent) and Quebec tossed in another 168,000 (up 4.8 per cent). The lion’s share of the jobs created in Quebec came in Montreal, where employment jumped 108,000, or 6.4 per cent. In Toronto, employment gains were softer with an increase of 2.9 per cent, or 75,000 jobs.

Employment growth was also strong in British Columbia (up 4.2 per cent), mostly in the lower mainland area. Alberta increased 3.9 per cent, with the Edmonton area accounting for half the jobs. Saskatchewan posted the strongest gain of all the provinces with an increase of 5.5 per cent.

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