New Brunswick added 4,000 full-time jobs last month, while 400 part-time jobs were lost, monthly data from Statistics Canada shows.
The unemployment rate in the province fell slightly from 8.4 per cent to 8.2 per cent, as the paid workforce increased by 1 per cent to 355,000.
Economist Richard Saillant says it’s “encouraging” to see strong data for New Brunswick, but warns that monthly job reports are normally volatile, especially for a small province. He said it’s risky to read in too much into a single month’s data.
“If we could see these kinds of strong numbers for several months in a row, then we could see a positive trend there. But it’s too early to tell,” said Saillant in an interview with Huddle.
“If [the growth is] maintained over the next coming months, it means that there’s momentum at the labour market, which is a positive thing. Momentum on two fronts – both employment creation and the size of the labour force.”
The January numbers show growth in both employment and the labour force, he said, which is why the unemployment rate has remained relatively stable.
“If the number of people at work or looking for work grows at the same time as employment grows, then the unemployment rate doesn’t move that much,” he said.
“It means that employment, which I believe are full-time mostly, grew faster than the actual labour force, which is a good thing. If the data is to be relied on – because it’s just a monthly report – then there’s strength in the labour market at this point.”
The unemployment rates in the province’s main cities remained much lower relative to the provincial average. Moncton’s rate was 5.4 per cent, up from 5.2 per cent in December. Saint John’s dipped from 6.3 per cent in December to 6.2 per cent in January.
The manufacturing sector saw the strongest growth in January, adding 1,800 positions. Public administration added 1,300 jobs, followed by the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing sector at 1,000 jobs. Educational services; construction; healthcare and social assistance; information, culture and recreation; and transportation and warehousing added 600 jobs each.
On the other hand, employment fell by 1,200 in the wholesale and retail trade industry. The agriculture; professional, scientific and technical services; forestry, fishing mining, quarrying, oil and gas; and accommodation and food services sectors all saw declines in employment as well.
Other parts of Atlantic Canada also saw strong numbers in January, with Nova Scotia adding 6,100 jobs and employment in Newfoundland and Labrador rose by 4,800. For both, more full-time jobs were added while part-time jobs declined. P.E.I., however, saw no changes to its employment numbers, except for a slightly higher unemployment rate at 9.9 per cent.
Nationwide, the number of people employed also grew by 67,000 in January, mostly among those aged 15 to 24 and in the services-producing sectors. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.8% as more people looked for work.
According to Statistics Canada, overall employment gains were wholly driven by private sector employees, while those self-employed decreased and the number of employees in the public sector didn’t change much.