Canada’s economy added 30,000 new jobs in February, bringing the rolling total for the past 12 months up to 245,000.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba added jobs during the month. Everywhere else, the job market was basically unchanged.
More than 20,000 of the new jobs went to Quebec, pushing the province’s unemployment rate to its lowest point since the data agency started tracking the numbers in 1976 — just 4.5 per cent.
Despite the slight job gains, the overall Canadian jobless rate inched up by 0.1 percentage points because more people were looking for work, too.
More people worked in wholesale and retail trade, in manufacturing, as well as in information, culture and recreation. On the flip side, employment declined in professional, scientific and technical services and in accommodation and food services.
While not a particularly strong monthly figure, the 30,000 new jobs were three times more than economists were expecting.
“I would suggest that this is good news because it does show that the economy actually did have a bit of momentum heading into the heavy weather of the coronavirus,” Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said. “And you know, it gives some credence to the view that the economy could or can recover after the storm passes.”
Royal Bank economist Nathan Janzen said the numbers looked “strong” but ultimately the data will take a back seat to the general economic gloom.
“Labour markets still looked pretty solid, but I’m not sure it matters at the moment,” he said. “All the concerns currently are around the potential impact of coronavirus into the spring.”