‘Ottawa’ Capital Region’s jobless rate Tumbles to 5.3%, Lowest in 6 Years
Fuelled by a significant jump in federal government employment, the region’s jobless rate slipped to 5.3 per cent in February compared to 5.7 per cent in January, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The drop reflects the net addition of 3,000 jobs across the region — to 728,100 — combined with a marginal decline in the size of the labour force, which includes those looking for employment.
The most important catalyst was the federal government, which last month accounted for nearly 21 per cent of all jobs in the region. Federal government employment reached 150,700 in February, up 3,000 from January and a remarkable 21,200 from a year earlier.
The numbers suggest the federal government workforce has been centralizing strongly under the Liberal administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Statcan estimates total federal government employment has jumped 25,900 over the past year to 359,900, with less than 20 per cent of the growth occurring outside the national capital region.
The net result: Ottawa and Gatineau last month accounted for roughly 42 per cent of total federal government jobs compared to 39 per cent a year earlier.
While the feds were hiring, the high-tech sector slipped, at least in terms of jobs, for the fifth straight month. Total employment was 44,100 in February compared to 46,400 in January. That’s still higher than the 40,500 estimate from February 2016. The biggest loser in was the education sector, which shed 5,500 net jobs from January to February. Retailers shed 600 jobs over the same period.
Construction added 1,700 jobs in February compared to January for a new total of 40,100 while the health care sector added 1,800 to reach 95,200.
Data for individual sectors is not adjusted for seasonal factors though Statcan employs a rolling three-month average to smooth out trends.