Stats Canada reports January unemployment rise in Victoria, Nanaimo and Canada

By Doug Collins  The Canadian Press

By Doug Collins The Canadian Press

Also, because the labour-force survey relies on Canadians to report their income and employment status, it is not as reliable as the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, which uses payroll-tax data and is released about six-to-eight weeks after the end of the month.

"January saw an (88,000) drop in employment, reversing about half of the spectacular gains we registered late previous year".

Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers "reflect the concerns we have heard from businesses for months".

BMO Financial Group chief economist Doug Porter said the January figure brings the job market "back down to Earth".

Wage growth also received a boost in January, a month that saw Ontario lift its minimum wage.

Despite Canada's healthy economic performance a year ago, Alexander said the surprising pace of job creation had been stronger than the other data.

Locally, while Prince Albert's unemployment rate was down to 8.4 per cent from 8.7 the year prior, a number of factors contributed to this. He said it reinforces the view that the Bank of Canada will proceed "ultra-cautiously" through the rest of 2018. It's the highest year-over-year increase since July 2015 when it rose 3.32 per cent. It is not unusual to see a city's unemployment rate rise during stronger economic times as more people join the labour because the chances of finding work are better.

Some economists said it's possible Ontario's minimum wage increase played a role in those declines, but noted it's important not to read too much into one month of data.

Over that same period, the number of part-time positions fell by 125,400 for a contraction of 3.5 per cent.

In a labour force of 39,200, this region saw 37,700 people employed in January - while 1,500 were unemployed.

Economists are divided on how minimum wage increases play out.

"We also need to watch to see if our community is affected by the loss of part-time work like elsewhere in Ontario".

Most analysts cautiously highlighted the potential connection. The drop reflected a record loss of 137,000 part-time jobs, and a 49,000 gain in full-time work.

"Now part of that might be reflecting the increase in minimum wages in Ontario because that increase in minimum wage is impacting more than 20 per cent of all the workers in Ontario".

"But proving causality may remain contentious".

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