Jobless rate hits 30-year low

2006 marks 14 straight years of employment increases

About 62,000 more Canadians found work last month, pushing the jobless rate down to a 30-year low of 6.1 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Overall, 2006 was a good year for workers in Canada with employment growing by 2.1 per cent (or 345,000 more jobs) in 2006, the highest growth rate since 2002. This was the 14th consecutive year of employment increases in Canada.

Not surprisingly, Alberta's growth rate was the highest in Canada at six per cent, a 26-year high for the province. Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia also finished the year above the national employment growth rate.

There were increases in both full- and part-time employment in December, but overall employment growth was driven by full-time work, which accounted for about 80 per cent of new jobs in 2006. However, Ontario was the exception where nearly two-thirds of the pronvince's 113,000 new jobs in 2006 were part time.

In 2006, almost two-thirds of all the employment gains were among adult women. The proportion of women aged 25 and over who were working hit a record high in December 2006.

The strong employment rates also boosted the average hourly wage to $20 in December, an increase of 2.6 per cent from the year before. Alberta's hourly average wage rose 5.9 per cent to $21.60, the largest growth in the country. Alberta's wages led Ontario throughout 2006.

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