Unemployment rate drops to 7.2 per cent

Increase in full-time work drops rate to lowest level since summer of 2001

The national unemployment rate dipped 0.1 percentage points in May to 7.2 per cent, the lowest rate since July 2001, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

There were 56,000 jobs created in May, bringing the year-to-date total to 291,000 new jobs across the country in 2004.

Most of the gain in May came in the form of full-time positions (up 39,000). Since August 2003, full-time employment has grown by 315,000 (up 2.5 per cent) while part-time employment has declined by 24,000 (down 0.8 per cent.)

Construction sector builds jobs

Employment rose by 20,000 in construction in May, the second consecutive monthly increase following a pause in the first quarter of 2004.

But employment in manufacturing edged up just 12,000, continuing a period of little change that began during the fall of 2003. The manufacturing sector has not recovered the job losses incurred between November 2002 and November 2003.

More self-employed workers

Employment in the private sector increased by 42,000 in May with the gain concentrated amoung the self-employed (up 25,000.) This is the second consecutive monthly increase in the number of self-employed with gains totaling 60,000.

But despite the recent surge, losses earlier in the year left year-to-date employment for this group up by just 1.4 per cent (34,000.)

Job gains in Ontario

Employment in Ontario increased by 31,000, all in full-time work. The largest increases were in health care and social assistance, as well as in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Overall job gains total 111,000 (up 1.8 per cent) since last August when growth in the province regained momentum. In May the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to seven per cent, the result of more people in the labour force looking for work.

Employment in British Columbia increased by 15,000 with gains primarily in educational services, as well as business, building and other support services. Despite the increase in May, losses earlier in the year leave year-to-date employment down 0.9 per cent (down 18,000).

In Quebec employment was little changed in May following a large increase in April. Gains in the public administration and construction sectors were offset by employment declines in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing, as well as information, culture and recreation. There was a substantial decline in the number of people in the labour force searching for work in May, especially among youths, and this pushed the unemployment rate down 0.4 percentage points to eight per cent.

Employment gains across Atlantic Canada

There were 4,000 more people employed in New Brunswick with half of the increase in retail and wholesale trade. This month's increase brings total job gains since August 2003, when employment in the province gained momentum, to 13,000 (up 3.9 per cent). The unemployment rate was unchanged in May at 10 per cent.

In Nova Scotia, employment increased by 4,000, bringing total gains since the start of the year to 10,000 (up 2.3 per cent). The largest increases in May were in educational services, construction, as well as finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 8.9 per cent.

Employment rose by 3,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador, offsetting most of the decline in April. This brings total job gains since the start of the year to 7,000 (up 3.2 per cent). Sectors with the largest employment gains in May and since the start of the year are construction and retail and wholesale trade. Despite more people working in May, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 16.5 per cent as a result of an increase in labour force participation.

With an increase in full-time employment in May and the return to work of 20,000 striking public sector workers, the number of hours worked in Newfoundland and Labrador jumped 8.3 per cent, erasing the loss in April.

In May employment rose by 1,000 in Prince Edward Island. Gains were mostly in the construction sector, offsetting losses in this sector the month before. Despite the increase in May, year-to-date job losses total 1,300 (down 1.9 per cent). The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 12.6%, the result of an increase in labour force participation.

There was little change in employment in the other provinces.

JurisdictionApril 2004May 2004% change
Canada7.37.2-0.1
Newfoundland and Labrador16.516.50.0
Prince Edward Island12.612.60.0
Nova Scotia9.08.9-0.1
New Brunswick10.010.00.0
Quebec8.48.0-0.4
Ontario6.87.00.2
Manitoba5.45.3-0.1
Saskatchewan5.44.8-0.6
Alberta4.54.3-0.2
British Columbia7.77.80.1

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