Employment fell by 2,600 last month, after a November gain of 79,100, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.5 percent, close to an 11- 1/2 year high of 8.7 percent set in August.
The country lost 239,700 jobs last year, the first decline since 1992, and 323,400 jobs since employment peaked in October 2008. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said job creation will be the most important indicator of an economic recovery, speaking in a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interview this week. The country’s first recession since 1992 ended in the third quarter last year, and the Bank of Canada has pledged to keep its key lending rate at a record low 0.25 percent through June to sustain demand.
The decline of 274,600 jobs in goods-producing industries in 2009 was only partly offset by a gain of 34,900 in service industries.
Full-time employment fell by 2,400 in December, while part- time jobs decreased by about 200, Statistics Canada said. Transportation and warehousing companies fired 23,900 workers, and public administration employment fell by 21,600. Health care jobs rose by 35,300.
Average hourly wage growth accelerated to 2.4 percent in December from a year ago, Statistics Canada said, compared with 2.3 percent in the previous month, the slowest since March 2007.