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Archive for June 5th, 2009

UPDATE: Unemployment rises to 5.9%, as national rate jumps to 11-year high

Posted by sweens on June 5, 2009

By Krystle Chow, Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Fri, Jun 5, 2009 9:00 AM EST

The unemployment rate for the Ottawa-Gatineau region rose 0.4 percentage points in May as the local economy lost 3,800 jobs, in line with a broader trend across the country.

While the local jobless rate increased to 5.9 per cent, the employment drop was the smallest seen so far in 2009, and unemployment was far below the national rate, which rose 0.4 percentage points to an astonishing 11-year high of 8.4 per cent.

Employment decreased by 42,000 jobs in May, driven largely by steep manufacturing losses in Ontario. It was the only province to experience significant job losses; in fact, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan all reported higher employment numbers, and other provinces held steady.

“(The Ottawa-Gatineau rate) is also below that of the southern Ontario cities such as Windsor, London, all the cities affected by the automobile sector, which have double-digit unemployment rates or close to it,” said Statistics Canada analyst Vincent Ferrao.

Still, he noted that the local jobless rate has been creeping up lately, and it’s the highest percentage of unemployed people in almost four years, tied with January 2007 and November 2005 which both reported the same 5.9-per-cent unemployment rate. To see a higher local rate, one would have to go back as far as October 2005, when unemployment was at 6.6 per cent, Mr. Ferrao said.

“Unemployment is relatively higher than what we’ve seen recently, as there was strong job growth in the last couple of years but we’re not seeing that so far this year,” he added.

The deterioration between the three-month moving average for the period ended in May and for the previous month was spread out over a number of sectors, namely the accommodation and food services; information, culture and recreation; educational services; business, building and support services; and construction sectors. There were no large decreases during the month.

In fact, there was an increase in the battered high-tech sector, which added 1,500 jobs to employ 54,600 people in May, offsetting the small decline in the previous month.

“It’s encouraging – the last time we saw an increase in the tech sector was in December 2008,” said Mr. Ferrao.

Still, high-tech employment is down by 7,000 year-over-year, contributing to the 16,400 jobs lost overall during the 12-month period leading up to May.

The weakest link, however, was the retail and wholesale sector, which has reduced employment by roughly 13,000 jobs over the year, bringing the number of people working in the sector in May to 72,000.

As well, the business, building and other support services segment, which includes employment agencies and call centres, shrank its workforce by 10,000 jobs, to employ roughly 18,600 workers.

The declines were offset by healthy increase in the public administration and construction sectors, which both added 5,000 jobs each over the year, to end up with 152,000 and 36,000 workers in May, said Mr. Ferrao.


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